Thursday, November 30, 2006

The presidential visit

I think it was in the afternoon, sunday last week, when I was doing something at home and suddenly heard what sounded like a whole bunch of sirens. A sucker for accidents or any sort of morbid excitement as I am, I lept up to the window and looked down. Just as I looked down, something like five shiny police cars and a black Cadillac flew by at high speed. Gziiz, I just then realized I probably could have spat down on the car of George W. Bush, but didn't have enough time to open the window. A pretty amazing thing to happen on a lazy sunday evening...

Though, as a swedish friend commented later, as they were probably just practicing the driving and he would actually show up at first monday evening... there was still plenty of time to get a rifle. Anyway, on the monday evening me and baby went out for a little walk to get groceries, but the pull from the lemonade mixers (saftblandare) in the distance as well as the trailer-load of black Ford vans passing us on the way to the airport from the harbour was too strong. We just had to go look. It's not my picture, but look what drove by in quiet and solemn haste:

Fig 1: The head honcho

It was a pretty amazing display, more police than I knew even existed in Estonia, at least one limousine, Secret Service vans, an armored truck, a couple of buses, both civilian and painted versions of the new fancy Subaru police car.

Fig 2: Viru Keskus, where police cars go to mate?

Anyway, Bush had breakfast in the pink presidential palace (the estonian president is so funny in that he always wears a bow tie, not a normal tie. Supposedly so does his fourteen-year-old son), held a press conference mostly concerning empty promises for a visa waiver (?) program, shook a few hands and was gone in his Air Force One before anyone could say "cultural insensitivity". A lot of schrieking for little wool, said the girl who sheered the pig.

In other news, I have a new work laptop! Or well, it's brand new, but it's not like I had a work laptop before. As I've said before, everything is still extremely ad hoc, I've worked on my mac before and this one our computer dude dropped off out of the trunk of his rally car in the parking slot at Estonia street with the comment "paper work will be done later". Anyway, it's an adorable little 12" 1.6 GHz Celeron, 500 MB RAM, 70 GB disc thing in pure white with a web cam in the screen frame and a tiny keyboard. Actually, I'm pretty sure it's the same kind of chassi use, and we'll see about the quality of it.

I'm definitely gonna have to install software (if our computer guy will let me) to compensate for the discrepancy in usability I'm used to from MacOS X, just look at this little thing:

Fig 3: My latest little nerdy achievement

What it is is a special Quicksilver URL, which can perform simple substitution. The URL is for the Eesti Keele Instituut (Estniska akademien), for the two forms which provide estonian-english translation. So, with it I can now touch a quick Ctrl+Space, type in just a few letters in the bookmark and then write the word in either estonian or english I'd like to translate, hit enter and it will be looked up in my web browser. Insanely nifty. I've seen a similar application exists for Windows, it's called Colibri there. Will try it out.

Next time: What I have learnt from Estonia

PS. The president-spotting continued in Tartu, this time it was the car of the bow-tie man parked in the street in front of Hotel London, just across from the georgian restaurant where I sat and worked.

Fig 4: Estonian presidents have very simple numberplates

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