Schrottie complains that his paper work has piled up. I can only offer my sympathy but not the help he requests. I am struggling with the same problem as he is.
Last week my internet service provider sent me an offer (printed on paper!) to upgrade my connection to 2 MB. I thought the price they were asking, 29,90 € a month, was pretty decent so I sent them an inquiry yesterday morning. I happen to think that a simple question e-mailed in the morning should be answered during business hours the same day. Since I have not heard a word from them tonight, two business days after I e-mailed them, I must conclude that they either do not read their mail or they just do not want my money. Either way, they are just acting plain stupid.
Talking about money, I am not making enough of it for a long time. Rather than just wining about it, I am starting on a part time job after the Easter holidays. Which is why I have been busy with a pile of paper work these last days. Signing the contract, going to the tax office, filling in forms with my trade union and all that bureaucratic stuff have really sucked the juice out of me. So I have enough as it is, I do not need this bullshit from the ISP.
I have now done the absolutely inevitable part of my paper work. The rest is just going to have to wait for a while. One can only do so much at the time.
I’ll sail off to Tallinn for a couple of days tomorrow. Apart from seeing good friends in a pub with no name I am going to attend the annual meeting of the Estonian Journalist Union on Thursday which is just as much a pleasure as it is business.
Everybody needs a break once in a while and this looks like the right time to take one. I’ll still have all the time in the World to hate the paper work. It is not going away while I am.
The traditional military parade in Tallinn on the Estonian independence day has been cancelled due to cold weather. The temperature in Tallinn is – 18 °C as I type. The Estonian flag will be raised in an hour in a ceremony outside the House of Parliament on Toompea Hill.
The traditional presidential reception and concert is going to take place tonight in Tartu. The event has earlier taken place in Tallinn but president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who took office last fall, initiated the change of the scene. The president is also expected to deliver his first independence day speech.
The Estonian Declaration of Independence was first publically read in Pärnu 23rd February 1918. It was formally adopted in Tallinn on 24th February. The German
Landeswehr troops invaded Tallinn on 25th of February which marked the beginning of the Estonian freedom war.
Andre and Thomas raised some questions in comments to my earlier posts about price level in Finland. It is an expensive country to live in and being able to do some shopping in Tallinn across the gulf is useful. The purpose of this post is to try to explain what you would want to buy in Tallinn rather than in Helsinki and why.
Thomas was wondering about the cigarette papers. It beats me that the vendors in Finland are asking a ridiculous price for the papers. It is not a matter of tax, as Thomas seemed to think. I once asked a Finnish customs officer about it and was told that there is no custom fee or tax imposed on the papers and I am accordingly entitled to bring as much as I need for personal consumption.
Most shops in Finland only have Rizla’s fag papers. A leaflet of 50 sheets costs around one euro. A box of 50 leaflets (2500 sheets) would accordingly cost 50 €. My recorded consumption of cigarette papers is about five boxes a year, i.e. 250 leaflets or 12.500 sheets.
As the market in Tallinn provides also cheaper brands than Rizla, I pay about 80-90 Estonian crowns for a box of 2500 sheets. That is less than 6 € so I collect at least 44 € for each box that I buy in Tallinn. It makes more than 200 € a year.
Thomas also asked about the price of beer in Finland. Beer and booze have traditionally been heavily taxed in Finland. Let me start with booze. That is something to illustrate our governments’ utmost stupidity. It does not matter which party has been in the coalition, all of them have made a bad record.
Finland joined the EU in 1995. A transition period of nine years allowed Finland to limit the amount of alcoholic beverages to be imported for personal consumption from other EU countries. At that time it was foreseeable that Estonia would join the EU within the transition period.
A sensible government would have dropped the booze tax in steps. The prize of a 0,5 litre bottle of vodka (which is the number one booze in the country) could have been sunk by approximately one euro a year. The negative effects of increasing drinking could have been spread over many years which would have allowed to fight them back. The price of vodka would still be higher than in Estonia but not as much higher to motivate bringing home large amounts of booze. As Estonia is going to have to increase their alcohol tax within the next few years in accordance to their transition period with EU, there would be a realistic chance to discuss raising the alcohol tax in Finland as well.
The governments in various party colors chose to do nothing during the transition period. As late as the autumn of 2003, the Finnish government asked the EU to prolong the transition period. They obviously thought that Finland would be able to continue the high alcohol prize level forever. Brussels did not agree, though. They understood that since nothing had been done by the Finnish government during the transition period, it would be very likely that nothing would be done during a prolongued transition period.
The transition period ended on 1st January 2004. The closest EU country with lower price of alcohol at that time was Germany. Some tours were organized to bring home extensive amounts of booze and beer but the real issue started on May 1st as Estonia became a member of EU.
The Finnish government waited to the very last moment to decrease the prize of booze in the government monopoly liquer stores. The new prices took effect just a couple of weeks before the Estonian membersip. It was done with the worse possible way. The price is still high enough to motivate massive import from Estonia. On the other hand, drinking has increased and all the negative effects of that have exploded upon the face of the society. And the income of the government has dropped.
A 0,5 litre bottle in the monopoly would cost around 7 or 8 euros. I do not remember the exact price as I obviously do not buy my stuff there. The price in Tallinn is at the cheapest around 4 euros.
The beer is another story of stupidity. The Finnish breweries export hundreds of thousands of litres of beer each year to Estonia. And Finnish tourists bring the stuff back to Finland. Most Estonians would not touch the stuff and I do not blame them. Who would like to drink raindeer’s piss anyway?
There is a fresh bill in the parliament that would regulate the sales of beer. It would no longer be possible to sell larger amounts for a cheaper price. A 12 pack (4 litres) costs around 8-9 euros. A single bottle of 0,33 litres would cost around 1 €. By regulating the sales the Finnish government would hurt the local vendors as more and more of the Finnish brewed raindeer’s piss would be sold in Tallinn rather than Helsinki.
As for cigarettes, a pack of my favorite fags costs at least 4 € in Helsinki and 28 Estonian crowns in Tallinn which is less than 2 €. It is a brand popular in Finland and it is being exported to Estonia and sold in Tallinn for Finnish tourists exclusively. Estonians do not want to smoke it and it is not sold outside Tallinn.
Estonia’s transition period on tobacco tax is going to run out in 2009. The transition period allows older EU countries like Finland to limit the import as long as Estonia does not take out the minimum tax. Alas, I am only allowed to bring in one cartoon (10 boxes or 200 cigarettes) at the time. The difference in price is big enough to cover the boat ticket.
Finland is an expensive country to live in. A free lance journalist with fluent Estonian is interested in job offers south of the Gulf. Do I have to spell out why?
Meanwhile, I am going to be out of town tomorrow. Today, actually, since it is well past the midnight. And I do not have a chance to sleep more than a few hours before leaving.
I hate to travel to Tallinn in winter. In the autumn I bought enough of cigarette paper to go on rolling my fags to the spring. I save about 200 € a year by buying the sheets in Tallinn.
However, I forgot that my press credentials need to be renewed in early February. And the General Secretary of Estonian Journalist Union is going to have a two week winter vacation starting on Monday. So I am going over
tomorrow today to sort it out. I hope to be back in town late in the evening. With a fresh set of press cards.
Tags: e-voting, George W Bush
President George W Bush in Tallinn yesterday, addressing the Estonian prime minister Andrus Ansip:
It’s an amazing country you have here. They’ve got an e-government system that should be the envy of a lot of nations.
Now, that sounds a bit funny, coming expressly from his mouth. I take it that the president is aware that Estonian voters were able to cast their vote through the Internet in the municipal election of 2005 without a single serious complaint against legitimacy of the e-vote. I take it he knows that e-voting is going to be an option in the parliamentary election in March 2007.
So it is sort of funny that the e-government is being praised by a president who was elected back in 2000 under such a controversy regarding the voting system.
The president went on to say:
You’re doing a fine job, Mr. Prime Minister. Proud of you.
I just wonder if Mr. Ansip was proud of George W Bush being proud of him.
Tags: George W Bush
This lengthy (8 minutes and 4 seconds) video is worth watching for anybody planning to visit the Estonian capital Tallinn. It explains in detail what sort of behaviour is advisable in town and especially what you should not be doing. Although it is primarily meant for British tourists, the advice is suggestable for everybody else.
Oh, did I mention that Air Force One with George W Bush and Mrs. Bush onboard is expected to land on Tallinn International Airport within an hour? The president will stay in town till tomorrow. All of the Radisson SAS Hotel is reserved for president Bush and his staff.
I have been wondering all day if I might have been a bit careless with my cigarettes because I smell some smoke. But it does not smell like tobacco. Much more like something actually burning.
Now I have evidence that I have not suddenly become grazy. It is smoke, that of some terrestrial fires in Russia. They have been going on for several days.
ETV 24 reports that altogether 12.440 hectares of wood is burning in Russia. 413 of those hectares are burning in the northwestern Russian territories close to the Finnish border.
I heard in the radio this morning that there was thick smoke in the air in central Tallinn. The city’s web site publishes fresh air quality measurement results every hour. And now Helsingin Sanomat writes that the sun was momentarily behind smoke clouds in central Helsinki this morning.
The Russian authorities are concentrating their fire fighting efforts to populated areas. Since the areas close to the border have practically no inhabitants, the only thing I can hope is that the wind would take another direction. Or massive rain to fall over northwestern Russia.
YLE 24 writes that the Russian Emergency Ministry has responded to an inquiry of the Finnish government that the fires should soon be under control. The ministry does not consider it to be likely that assistance of Finnish firefighters would be necessary. However, says the ministry, should any help be needed, the Finns will exceptionally be allowed to cross the border wiothout a visa.
This is definitely something extraordinary. Being familiar with the Russian bureaucracy, I would have imagined that the fire engines would have been forced to wait at the border untill proper visas were issued. Who could even dream of extinguishing a fire without doing the proper paper work first?
Tags: photo blog
Indrek’s parking photo blog displays loads of evidence about careless parking in Tallinn but it looks like the parking situation is not very orderly in Germany either. At least according to these two snaps in André’s blog.
Tags: photo blog
Indrek in Tallinn is annoyed by drivers who park their vehicle carelessly. To tell the truth, the parking culture in the Estonian capital can not be described as very civilized. It is not that there would be lack of parking space in Tallinn, some drivers just seem to think that parking rules are for somebody else and they do not mind to get a parking ticket.
The most common and at the same time most irritating and arrogant way of false parking in Tallinn is to park in a space designated to disabled persons in front of a shopping mall entrance. Not only are those drivers, mostly young and healthy persons, being selfish and arrogant, they also make it harder for somebody with a handicap to access those malls. You would be most likely to spot an expensive car of the latest model in that kind of a parking space, crying out loud: “I am young and healthy and I have money so I do not care.”
Being tired all of this, Indrek started to photograph the notorious parkers in Tallinn. As Indrek is an active photographer, it provided him as much of artistic pleasure as a notion of doing something about what he was feeling to be utterly wrong. Yesterday, he published the first pictures of parking hooligans in Tallinn in a brand new photo blog entitled Wrong parking. The blog is accessable in wrongparking.blogspot.com.
While hooligan parkers in Tallinn are not likely to be discouraged by the minimal price of the parking ticket, the prospect of being exposed in Indrek’s photo blog in a country with high Internet usage rate may just turn out to be the first step in improving the negligent traffic culture. Their message hitherto has been that they are rich and healthy. Indrek’s response is that they are jerks as well which just might trigger a second thought.
Indrek is also interested in sharing his blog space. Community response does not necessarily have to be limited to one town and one country. If you have pictures about hooligan parkers elsewhere, you may want to contact Indrek if you would like to share them. Just e-mail him at voyag[at]hot.ee You would know which sign to put instead of the [at].