Digital shoebox of stray thoughts and fleeting moments by Mika Meskanen.

East met West under the breath of Lithuanian bath whisks

To match the tagline “East meets West” the International Sauna Association could not have chosen a more fitting location for its 16th International Sauna Congress, than the historic city of Trakai, deep in the Lithuanian heartland. Throughout the centuries, the skyline of a medieval castle that mirrors off the surrounding lakescape has been imprinted in the minds of a legion of dwellers and visitors from Teutonic Knights to Crimean Karaites.

For one long early summer’s weekend Trakai once again became its historic self when the members of worldwide community congregated in the halls of Trasalis Spa Hotel to exchange their knowledge and recent proceedings in the manifold arts of sauna bathing. Roughly the first half of the three-day programme was dedicated to talks and presentations and the second half to excursions to local saunas.

An eclectic mix of presentations and international flair

The organisers cannot be blamed for a lack of open-mindedness in putting the conference programme together. Presentation topics ranged from sports medicine and architectural regulations to aromatherapy and Native American sweat lodge rituals. Such an eclectic mix of topics proved that modern bath science is a holistic study where a surprising variety of viewpoints can be equally considered.

Regardless of the angle, everyone seemed to agree on the mental and physical benefits of sauna. This was best exemplified by Katsuki Tanaka, a manga artist from Japan, who gave a heartfelt account of losing his creative inspiration under the oppression of the modern world, and finding it again in the sauna. Now his new little figure “Coppu no Fuchiko” is selling millions and creativity flourishes. If sauna originally was a hunter-gatherers’ survival technique, it has now fully inserted itself into the 21st century story of health, mindfulness and well-being.

At the front and centre of the congress however, was the rich and vigorous Lithuanian sauna tradition with its strong emphasis on whisking as the backbone of the experience. The art of whisking is an all-encompassing craft, starting with foraging herbs and preparing the sauna, and culminating with choreographing the entire bathing experience with its warm-ups and cool-downs, whisking, massaging and scrub.

Unique opportunity to experience Lithuanian sauna culture

The deep dive continued with an excursion to “Pirties diena”, the Lithuanian day of the sauna celebration set up by a lush creek outside the town. In today’s terms the event could be described as a pop-up sauna village, with dozens of stalls and mobile saunas with their bathmasters ready to whisk visitors to an enlightened state of mind. Had this been set up anywhere near London, Berlin or Brooklyn it could have become the trendiest event of the year.

Taking on from the group excursion, the last day was dedicated to “try pirtis” – a series of individual field trips to different saunas around Trakai that each congress attendee could book after their fancy. This unique opportunity gave even deeper insight into the variety and practicalities of Lithuanian sauna culture.

The four-year wait for the next congress feels olympic – but with all the knowledge and connections built here, the international sauna community will surely come back together even wiser and stronger in 2018.

‘Love Sublime (feat. Nile Rodgers and Fiora)’ by Tensnake is my new jam.

‘Love Sublime (feat. Nile Rodgers and Fiora)’ by Tensnake is my new jam.

“Dencity, a map of global population density”

Dencity, a map of global population density

‘Rebel Soldier’ by Jamey Johnson is my new jam.

‘Rebel Soldier’ by Jamey Johnson is my new jam.

Do you like our owl?


It’s artificial?

Of course it is.

Must be expensive.

Very. I’m Rachael.


‘Blush Response’ by Vangelis

In praise of gaffer tape


When shit gets real a fresh roll of gaffer tape often comes in handy.

An out of left field testimonial comes from the British photographer David “Birth of Cool” Bailey:

Over the years I’ve stuck million-dollar Panavision cameras together with it. I’ve used it in sculpture work. Only once did I use it in a photograph, when I worked with Terry Jones for i-D magazine; he always wants models to have one eye closed. So you just stick gaffer tape over their eye, don’t you? It’s the only time I’ve used it that way.

Gaffer tape was first made for the U.S. military in 1942 to seal ammunition boxes whilst making them easy to open. In that respect they had definitely learned from the British defeat at the hands of Zulus in Isandlwana over 60 years earlier, where the redcoats had trouble prying open their ornance crates. The rest is history as we know it.

You’d imagine that at least in space you’d have more sophisticated means to fix things but no – even the out-of-luck Apollo 13 crew would not have made it back home without gaffer tape.

The Gravitistic Wristwatch

An eerie description of an equally mesmerising timepiece:

Jaemin Jaeminlee has designed an intriguing rendition of the conventional timepiece. The Gravitistic is not a precision time-telling device at all, but is actually a time perspective meter disguised as a wristwatch.


The Sean Connery Day

It’s the official Sean Connery Day. Be sure to grab a few Red Stripes and have a nap!

Back to school

Handwriting designed by architect Toivo Salervo and introduced in 1931. It was taught in Finnish schools up until late 80s. The letter flow was designed so that entire words could be written without lifting the pen off the paper, a feature that was lost in subsequent revisions.

Hockey stick graph to the rescue


Four weeks ago Ubuntu undertook the largest crowdfunding campaign in history so far. Listed on Indiegogo, the open-source project attempts to raise $32 million to independently produce a superphone called Ubuntu Edge.

Now, as I was previously employed at Canonical, the parent company of Ubuntu and pretty much saw the whole Ubuntu Phone project through from sketches on paper plates to the public launch in Las Vegas – I must admit that this record-breakingly insane fundraiser has got some sentimental value to me.

The campaign got off to a great start, smashing five million inside 72 hours, but the growth has since flattened out and now lingers at around $10 million with less than a week left. Something akin to skyrocketing needs to happen fast if this is to succeed.

So how do you raise $22 million? 

Currently the options to contribute are following: $20 to become a Founder, $50 to get a t-shirt, $695 for the phone itself, $7000 for the enterprise starter kit, $10,000 for the phone and VIP treatment, and $80,000 for the enterprise bundle. 

Ideally, people would pledge $695 for the phone, but that’s understandably a lot to pony up for a device that will only be out in May 2014. An easy entry is a must because the last stage of the campaign needs to be infectious like a… zombie epidemic.

Which is why I think the only way through is through the masses. The lowest priced perk of the campaign is the $20 “Founder” pledge. Easy, low entry. If a million people become Founders, the Ubuntu Edge is on for sure.

Everyone who can read this, can part with twenty dollars for a good cause. Everyone who thinks free and open-source software is a good thing, should pledge $20 (or more) and ask their friends to do the same.

If it doesn’t work out, you get your money back in a few days. If we succeed, you’ve become a part of making history!

Give it a go!