My friend had a posting about The Story of Stuff Project and I feel that this topic is really important and people should know about it. So, the story is about how the things are made, why they are cheap, why we buy them again and again, where it all leads to, and how we can help the situation. If you have a slight concern about the environment and future on Earth must watch this movie.
Click on the image and select your language there:
If you like movies like Fahrenheit 9/11, Capitalism: A Love Story, The Yes Men Fix the World , you definitely should see the movie Tapped. This movie raises the issues of clean drinking water, health, pollution and describes how the major soft drink companies started carelessly harvesting water to earn money on something that anyone should have access for. My personal belief is that it is ridiculous that we got used to buy water and as the main force that creates demand, should stop buying bottled water to protect the environment and our pockets and our health. Here are some points that the movie is trying to make:
1. access to water is basic human right and should be free
2. the regions that the water is taken from turn into deserts
3. the bottles that are used to store the water are:
a) polluting the environment
b) have chemicals that might harm your health
4. the bottled water companies do not have to pass any regulations, unlike companies that supply tapped water
5. and you are not guaranteed to get clean water.
6. bottled water is often filtered tapped water.
The situation with the tapped water is different from country to country. It's close to perfect in Sweden and close to disaster in the post USSR area. So, buying bottled water is the need sometimes. This however does not mean that the bottled water is clean event if you buy it from the store. Meanwhile if you want to buy or carry some water in the bottles or want to buy soft drinks, it is much safer for your health to get it in a glass bottle or aluminum can. And watch the movie if you get a chance, if you care ... well ... about the environment and your own health.
There are 2 pieces of freeware that I have recently found recently and found interesting. First, this is Luxand Blink! that allows you to login with your webcam. The setup will ask the user to turn the head and will remember the face. On login it will start the webcam and if your face is still the same, it will login for you. You can still login with your usual text password. Both x86 and x64 versions for Windows Vista/7 are available.
The second program is a web browser Opera. Actually it is an addon for Opera that I want to mention and allows file sharing. One person specifies the folder to share and gets a link to send to another user. Another user gets the link and can download any file from the first user's shared folder. The second user can use any web browser to download the files. Nothing new here but it works fast without port forwarding or any additional setup or hardware.
I tried this file sharing with files over 1Gb in size and it works great. One thing that is not so good is that the one who shares the files cannot see the progress of how much of the total file size has been downloaded but only which files have been requested and are in progress. I believe this is one of the best ways to share the files when you do not need it on a daily basis but only now and then.
It was a couple of busy but at the same time exciting months in our life. Slowly we are learning what it takes to be parents and manage to have some fun. Marie it occupied with the baby more than I these days but I am trying to help her with the small things.
In the mid August a couple of my friends and I traveled from Stockholm to Halmstad to see Roxette concert. 1000 kilometers in one day doesn't sound like a lot of fun, especially for the guy who was driving (not me), but it was an exciting concert and there were 20000+ people there. For Roxette it was a concert to see how they can handle working with the crowd and see if they can go on a big tour next year after a new album. Here are some videos from the concert:
August 17-22 I traveled to Lithuania. Marie and Alexander stayed at home. Alexander's documents are not ready yet. I met 6 of my friends, and we had some quality time together. We even swam in the Baltic sea and had to run from the rain one day. The beer is still good in Lithuania even though it is not bad in Stockholm at all. Hopefully Marie, Alex and I will manage to travel to Lithuania one more time this year and show our son to our friends. We will see how that goes.
After one of the Russian channels showed a program about the chemicals in the soaps and shampoos and how pretty much all the companies use chemicals that can possibly harm the health but due to the fact that it has not been proven that the chemicals will do that, the companies will still use them because they actually clean the skin and hair better and they are cheap to produce. So, I made a small research to figure out how much more expensive one must go in Sweden to get a 100% organic solution for the daily soap and shampoo. I looked at all the famous shampoos that are advertised on TV so see how many of them include the widely discussed chemical SLS and it appeared that all of the shampoos and liquid soaps do. Even those that say “with natural ingredients” still have SLS as one of the main ingredients.
I have found some special stores in Stockholm that sell organic cosmetics under “Fair Trade” label. There are some online stores that sell the same products and will ship pretty much all around the world. So if there is no rush, it is a better deal to buy them online. I tried to use the black soap (both liquid and hard and I can say I am satisfied. It costs a bit extra but I believe it is worth it.
When I think about it, why in a world did the market started using chemicals instead of natural organic solutions in the first place. Probably the same drive to make stuff cheaper and beat the competitors at any possible cost. It becomes even more dangerous when chemicals are used to produce food to make it look good, stay fresh and cost less.
It becomes really hard when one comes to choose the solution for the detergents. We assume that if we don't eat it, don't put it directly on our bodies, in the washer all of the chemicals from the detergents and softeners will be washed away with water and what we will get is clean, soft and safe laundry. That appears so not true either. Several groups of chemicals that are used in the detergents and especially in the softeners are not washed away with water and constantly come in contact with our skin. There are some organic solutions for the detergent as well, like soap nuts but they will not make the laundry as clean and white as chemicals would but most of the time soap nuts will do a pretty good job.
And, finally, here are some pictures from the kitchen that we have finally completed:
There are examples of the not-so-attractive advertisements in the world, and, in my opinion, Coke came up with one extra (and only in Sweden, as far as I understand). So, they say Sprite [Coke’s product] is so good, you’d sell your mother for it. I was speechless when I saw it first. What's that all about?
Before the mid 2004 I did not consider sitcoms as being something worth watching. I was thinking that it is impossible to keep up something funny and smart for 100+ series. In 2005 I first got a DVD from friend with some series of Friends sitcom. Surprisingly to myself I found them quite entertaining and I ended up watching all 10 seasons little by little. These days I do believe that [even] sitcoms can benefit people and they are not just make you a couch potato.
One of the things that you start picking up is the language with all the idioms, expressions and, of course, jokes. Second, I tend to believe that sitcoms teach people about the relationships, even though the script writers take it a bit too extreme from time to time. In addition to that it can help one to laugh and relax after a hard day at work.
I do not like every sitcom but I do like some. And some are taking longer time to get the idea what makes them special (like Simpsons, for example).
When I came to Sweden, I picked up 2 more sitcoms that I started watching. The first one was Two and a Half Men and the second was Scrubs and I think both are pretty good (even though I think of two, Two and a Half Men is a bit better produced). So, I do find it fascinating that the writers continuously find strengths to come up with more stories and jokes and ways to screw up relationships and, most of the time, put them back together. Or is it just me missing the English language?
In the beginning of April I went for a trip to hometown Klaipeda, Lithuania. We decided that I should go alone without Marie, since she is pregnant and we are waiting for the baby-boy to arrive sometime in the end of June.
Besides spending Easter holidays with my relatives, I also wanted to give my best wishes to my friends who are going to leave for Australia. I took long walks in the city, did some shopping for clothes. We managed to get together with some other friends, drink some beer, remember the old times, talk about current political and economic situation in Lithuania and started making some plans for the summer. I also finished watching the sitcom Scrubs but I will write more about it in another posting. I will be trying to get one week vacation sometime in the middle of August. One date that I will be occupied on is August 14, which is the day when my friends and I will be attending Roxette concert in Sweden, so if you are want to come and join us, there are 2 seats left in the car. In August – September, Roxette will be touring Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Russia (St. Petersburg and Moscow). By the way, they have never toured Lithuania though.
For now, here are some Easter animals we spotted from our window:
And here is someone misplaced his Lego part on the road sign:
Since I have got a new job as developer at Sirius in the beginning of December, time started to fly really fast. I enjoy my new job and I think I have found [one of the] things that I really like, which is developing user interfaces. I am not so much involved in the process of deciding how the things should look and where the buttons and text should be but rather implementing them in the designer and behavior code behind. I am bringing suggestions where I see that the things can be improved. I have really nice and supportive people around me.
We have slowed down a bit with renovations and a week ago or so we finished our bedroom. There are some small things that need to be added but generally here are two pictures of what it looks like:
So, now we have started on the kitchen, which is going to be the toughest of them all with all the possible things involved - electricity, tiles, floor, cupboards, gas pipes and so on. But hopefully we will be finished by the end of the spring. It is possible that my father will come to help me on this one as well.
As about my hobby, I was pleased to find out that Roxette is working on the new album and is going to perform live in Sweden this August. It seemed to me that the Roxette machine has stopped forever but it seems that they are up to it again, or there is just a need for extra money; you know, the kids are growing up and stuff :P. I will most likely to go to the concert with some of my friends, so if you are up to it as well, drop me a line.