About Me

Petteri

My name is Petteri Sulonen. I was born in Espoo, Finland, in 1971. However, I've lived or stayed extensively abroad, in places like California, France, Nepal, Lebanon, Ukraine, and Russia. Perhaps that's why I don't feel deeply rooted anywhere much.

My wife is of Lebanese origin. She's working on her doctoral dissertation at the Aalto University. I work in software design. We live in Helsinki, just by the World Peace Monument, about two minutes from the Hakaniemi food market. We have no children, but do have a cat and a dog. I'm new to Twitter, but you can maybe find me there, as @PrimeJunta.

Other than a driver's license, I have no formal qualifications for anything. The driver's license also says that I can ride motorcycles, which isn't true. I only rode a motorcycle once, and it was a very small one. We own neither a car nor a motorcycle, but I have a number of bicycles, including a fixed-gear I assembled around a Swedish racing bike frame from the 1950's. Most of the other parts are from a French touring bike from the 1970's. I like that bike a lot. In fact, I think I'll go ride it right now.

I studied political history at the faculty of social sciences in Helsinki University, but got sidetracked and dropped out. I have a half-finished draft for a master's thesis on a spat between the USSR and the USA over some statues of Taras Shevchenko somewhere. Taras Shevchenko is the national poet of Ukraine.

My other interests are eclectic, and tend to shift over time.

I love languages, and am fairly fluent in four of them, with two others dormant; they would wake up if I spent a few weeks having to speak them. I know the basics of maybe a half-dozen more.

I also love to take pictures. At one time, I was pursuing it very intensively. I wrote up a website about it. It still gets a quite a lot of visitors. I still take pictures, but make less of a point about it nowadays. I just carry a little camera and take pictures of whatever catches my fancy. I also don't have much more to say about photography, which is why that website is lying dormant. You'll find my recent photos on my Flickr photo stream, although I'd prefer that you checked out my sets and collections. Most of the photos on this blog are mine. The one at the top of this page is my wife's, though. She took it with a 1934 vintage folder camera I inherited from my grandfather. I cleaned it up and adjusted the focus, and it still works.

My online handle is Prime Junta. It comes from some animated discussions I've had about photography. I prefer to shoot with fixed focal-length, or prime, lenses, because they're smaller, sharper, brighter, and cheaper, and I find the discipline they impose improves my photography. That means that some people think I believe that Real Photographers Don't Use Zooms. That's not true, but I adopted the title anyway. It stuck.

Since about mid-2009, I have been practicing Zen in the Harada-Yasutani tradition, at the Helsinki Zen Center. That has kindled an interest in all kinds of things—Buddhist and "Eastern" philosophy, Asian history (something that was badly neglected during my formal studies), that sort of thing. I don't think of myself as Buddhist, and I always find it a bit weird when somebody else does. Unless something else comes up, I go to the zendo on Thursdays. I also attend zazenkai once a month if I'm able. I've participated in two retreats so far, and hope to be able to attend more in the future. I also hope to participate in a sesshin, once I've built up enough focus and stamina for that sort of thing. I have no immediate plans to run off to Zengården to be a monk. I don't think my wife would like that. She sits with me every once in a while, though.

I like to read. Lately, I haven't been reading all that much fiction. Some relatively recent novels I liked a lot include Vellum by Hal Duncan (Ink, not so much), the Fall Revolution series by Ken MacLeod, and Kraken by China Miéville. From the non-fiction side, my favorites include Eric Hobsbawm for his masterful history of the nineteenth century, Karl R. Popper who comes up a lot in my blog posts, Karen Armstrong for her eclectic and insightful view on religious tradition, and Joseph Stiglitz who really seems to understand what we should do to make the world work.

I also like comics—Franco-Belgian, and since a good friend of mine insisted that I read a Sandman comic of his a year or two ago, that kind of thing also. I especially like François Bourgeon, Joann Sfar, Neil Gaiman, and Lucifer. Alan Moore, not so much. I just discovered this guy called Hub, who draws and writes a comic called Okko. It's also been translated into English. It's good. Check it out.

I don't listen to music much. I usually prefer silence. I've tried portable music players and keeping music on my computer, but once the novelty wears off, I switch them off. I only listen to something maybe once every few months. Then I really listen to it, though. I hate background music. When I do listen to music, I have a general preference for singer-songwriter type stuff, that marries lyrics with music. Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Jacques Brel, Georges Brassens, Boris Grebenshchikov/Akvarium, Viktor Tsoi/Kino, that sort of thing. I include Richard Wagner in this bunch. The only major exception is Johann Sebastian Bach. His Suites for unaccompanied cello are more beautiful than should be possible.

I hardly watch any TV, or follow competitive sports. I do watch DVD's from time to time. The Muppet Show is great. So is Allo Allo, Wooster and Jeeves, and a few other things. The only recent TV series I've watched and liked is Rome. It's been ages since I went to the movies.

I enjoy cooking and wholesome food. I'm vegetarian, about four days of the week. The other three days I may eat fish or meat. I have a strong dislike for industrial meat, which I eat only if there are no other options available. I don't smoke. I don't do drugs. I drink the occasional beer, glass of wine, or nightcap, lately less than before.

I run a role-playing game campaign. I've been playing with the same group for well over ten years. My games are fairly free-form, based more on storytelling, the setting, and, well, role-playing, than combat, puzzles, or other more traditional "game" elements. My current campaign is set in a fantasy version of China during the Warring States period. I've worked in a good bit of Buddhist mythology there, so all my Dharma studies haven't gone completely to waste.

I have a highly-strung temperament. I don't always choose my words wisely. Despite that, I usually mean well.