Looking back to 2016

Posted: December 31st, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: personal, thoughts | No Comments »
2016 started off at Kota Kinabalu, for the last few days of my sabbatical in Malaysia. It took me to the Paris at the time of Pride and Nice at the time of the terror attack. I visited some great museums for the first time like the Versailles. But I had also great moments visiting Suure-Jaani and Oti Manor in Saaremaa.
 
We did a lot at the human rights centre: celebrated the Diversity Day for the second time and had a non-event for Human Rights Day. We helped several refugees and two same-sex couples to defend their rights in court. The Diversity Charter is doing well and we are slowly building the human rights movement in Estonia.
 
A total of 419 students were enrolled in my courses at TUT in 2016 and it was mostly a great pleasure to teach them. My greatest and proudest achievement this year was the report on the integration of refugees in Estonia I did for UNHCR. However, I stalled with my PhD, which needs extra focus in 2017.

Here are my bests of 2016 from Estonia and the wider world:

Politics (European and global/western)

Politician of the year: Justin Trudeau, for giving hope when there was not much
Runners-up: Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn

Political event of the year: US election result
Runner-up: Brexit

Politics (Estonian)

Political event of the year: Elections of the Chairman of the Centre Party, which brought the change in government
Runner-up: Presidential elections

Law

Court judgment of the year: Joined Cases C-203/15 and C-698/15 Tele2 by the European Court of Justice, which ruled that data retention and mass surveillance is illegal

Movies

Best movie: Arrival, Sully
Runners-up: Deadpool, Midnight Special, Nocturnal Animals

TV

Best TV series: Black Mirror
Runners-up: O.J. Made in America, Stranger Things, American Crime Story, Veep, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

Games

Game of the year: Watch Dogs 2
Runners-up: Transport Fever, Uncharted 4, Mafia 3, Final Fantasy XV, No Man’s Sky, Super Mario Run

Music

Artist of the year: The Weeknd
Runners-up: Frank Ocean, Justin Bieber


2015 in review

Posted: December 29th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: cool, personal, politics, thoughts | No Comments »

Here are my personal, highly subjective best of 2015 awards as a fun way of rounding up the year. Mostly meaning impact, but also subjective taste (for entertainment stuff).

Politics (European and global/western)

Politician of the year: Federica Mogherini – for her leadership during the refugee crisis and Iran negotiations.
Runners-up: Angela Merkel (for her response to the refugee crisis), Justin Trudeau (for offering hope that a new kind of politics is possible), Barack Obama (for not screwing up too much, Cuba policy, Iran, etc). Promising potential: Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders.

Political event of the year: The refugee resettlement proposal, which re-ignited discussions about the identity of Europe and brought much-needed refugee issue to the forefront.
Runner-up: Eurocrisis

Politics (Estonian)

Politician of the year: Taavi Rõivas – PM proved much more resilient and smart than anyone had expected, leading the Reform Party to electoral victory and successfully forming a government later. Adept at avoiding controversies, Merkel-style.
Runners-up: Jevgeni Ossinovski – for re-energising the social democrats, Edgar Savisaar – Tallinn mayor held onto power amid great personal, legal and political turmoil.

Political event of the year: Parliamentary elections in Estonia
Runner-up: Refugee crisis.

Law

Court judgment of the year: C-362/14 Schrems (CJEU) – huge impact all over the world for invalidating US Safe Harbour agreement, establishing further protections of privacy.
Runners-up:  Obergefell v. Hodges (SCOTUS), Delfi v. Estonia (ECtHR)

Movies

Best movie: Bridge of Spies
Runners-up: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Walk
Disappointment of the year: Spectre
Worst film of the year: Chappie

TV

Best TV series: American Horror Story: Hotel
Runners-up: Empire, Veep, Cucumber

Games (Mac, iOS)
Note: I have played very few proper video games this year. Need to get a PS4.

Game of the year: Cities: Skylines
Runners-up: Prison Architect

Music

Artist of the year: Justin Bieber
Runners-up: The Weeknd, Troye Sivan

 

Happy new year! 2016 awaits.


September 11, 2001

Posted: May 2nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: law, memoir, personal, united states | No Comments »

The capture and killing of Osama bin Laden brought me back my memories of September 11, 2001.

I was at a lecture at the time, it was the beginning of my sophomore year at Concordia University Law School.  I had my birthday the day before, but I do not recall any big party or a hangover. It was a lecture of Public International Law by Maureen B Fitzmahan, one of the American permanent lecturers at Concordia. Suddenly, text messages started arriving that New York City is attacked and the whole city blown up, the skyline gone. Everyone was taken aback, but the lecture did go on, people who had relatives or friends in the US were suggested to go and try to contact their relatives. Concordia at the time was very international, with a few American students.

I was quite shocked and thought about the impact to the world when I was waiting for the bus to take me back to my parents flat in Õismäe from Viimsi, where this small private university was located. It was such a clear and beautiful, sunny day, but I wanted to return quickly to find out more what had happened. The world really seemed different.

There have been terrorist attacks before and after September 11, 2011, but not one of those had the same impact on me.


Happy 2010!

Posted: January 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Estonia, personal, youtube | No Comments »

Here is a short video of impressions from the New Year:


Mattress for sale

Posted: February 7th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: home, personal | No Comments »

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I am selling my almost new mattress, because I bought a bed which requires a bigger mattress. The mattress is 140×200, orthopaedic and ecological, it feels really good to sleep on. I want 4 300 EEK for it, as I paid about 5 300 for it five months ago.


On diet until 1 May

Posted: January 19th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: personal | No Comments »

I have made a pact to go on healthy foods diet from last Saturday until 1 May. This means:

  • no meat (except fish)
  • no white bread, pastries or any other such stuff (only black bread or healthy bread is allowed)
  • no sweets
  • no alcholic beverages
  • no sodas or lemonade (incl Pepsi and Dr. Pepper)

Uh-oh, this is going to be difficult.


Happy 2009

Posted: January 1st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: personal | No Comments »

Happy 2009

Best wishes for everyone for 2009.


Merry Christmas

Posted: December 25th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: personal | No Comments »

Have a great Christmas, everyone. Enjoy being with your family and meeting you friends during these holidays, as who knows when some of them will not be around any more.


Life without a kitchen

Posted: December 21st, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: personal | No Comments »

I have now lived almost for five months without having a kitchen at my permanent place of living. This was not voluntary, but a budgetary decision. However, I have now managed to scrape together some money to get a kitchen installed and hopefully will get a basic kitchen still within this year.

I lived without a kitchen before, but then it was for a shorter period and I did live at a location which was at the heart of the city so whenever I was hungry I could very easily go to a shop or café. In my new place, I have still not located a suitable place, although I guess Kristiine Keskus will do if necessary. I thought having no kitchen would make me more free, instead it has limited my options: I have to struggle to find a place to eat, there is limited amount of foods that can be prepared with just hot water kettle, etc etc.

On the upside, I have lost a few kg-s because I am unable to go to the refridgerator in the evening and have a little snack. If there is no food around, one cannot eat too much food. The irregular eating habits have, however, proven to be not so healthy for me, so my family doctor has suggest that I eat probiotics.

There is another side to it. The kitchen does really make a place of living home. One does not even have to cook very often, but there needs to be a possibility for cooking.

Money-wise, I thought that not having a kitchen would be tremendously expensive, because you need to always eat out. However, that seems not to be the case, my budget for food seems to be pretty much the same as it was when I had the kitchen, there is even small savings as I do not eat so much snacks. 

The biggest problem I have with not having a kitchen is actually not being able to cook. I did not think I would miss cooking so much, but I do. I am not an especially good cook, but I do.

So, I hope my kitchen will be ready soon. It will be a special kind of kitchen as I never just do anything in a normal way, but hopefully it will be a good kitchen for me. My requests were quite simple:

  • it should not be or look like a regular kitchen (i.e. it should not be so massive woodwork structure), but with a simple kind beauty,
  • there must be a refridgerator and a stove, everything else is extra. There should not be a microwave, as I do not like them.

Trust

Posted: December 20th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: michael jackson, personal, philosophy | No Comments »

Trust

by Michael Jackson

As I was feeding squirrels in the park, I noticed a small one that didn’t seem to trust me. While the others came close enough to eat out of my hand, he kept his distance. I threw a peanut his way. He edged up, grabbed it nervously, and ran off. Next time he must have felt less afraid, because he came a little closer. The safer he felt, the more he trusted me. Finally he sat right at my feet, as bold as any squirrel clamoring for the next peanut.

Trust is like that — it always seems to come down to trusting in yourself. Others can’t overcome fear for you; you have to do it on your own. It’s hard, because fear and doubt hold on tight. We are afraid of being rejected, of being hurt once more. So we keep a safe distance. We think separating ourselves from others will protect us, but that doesn’t work, either. It leaves us feeling alone and unloved.

Trusting yourself begins by recognizing that it’s okay to be afraid. Having fear is not the problem, because everyone feels anxious and insecure sometimes. The problem is not being honest enough to admit your fear. Whenever I accept my own doubt and insecurity, I’m more open to other people. The deeper I go into myself, the stronger I become, because I realize that my real self is much bigger than any fear.

In accepting yourself completely, trust becomes complete. There is no longer any separation between people, because there is no longer any separation inside. In the space where fear used to live, love is allowed to grow.

These wise words were written by Michael Jackson, of all people, in his book Dancing the Dream. I think there is a lot of truth to this. It has been difficult for me to trust people, and part of it is not being able to accept my own insecurity and fears.