If it wasn't because I knew I needed to get as much sleep as I could, I wouldn't have been able to get any. I was both excited and nervous in equal measure. Sometimes, I gather to meet someone else from the blogosphere is like meeting someone you see on the TV, almost surreal. And, in what would become one of our little jokes during the trip, the thought kept creeping in my head of Turistas, Hostel, Taken, and Craiglist.
But once I stepped off the plane and got my luggage, it was as if we knew each other all along. I recognized the face before the shirt!
From all the emails we had exchanged, Kris had remembered that I liked Sushi so he had made a reservation at Kabuki, in Helsinki. Until that reservation, he showed me a bit around Helsinki to most of the important places: railway station, bus stop to catch the airplane shuttle, some landmarks, movie theatre, the church that had Punttis Gym underneath it (the band was playing New Orleans-style jazz - - - cool!!!). Sometime during our walk, it started to drizzle but we made it to Kabuki, a Japanese restaurant with some Finnish Hockey Team gear on the walls. With the church jazz band and now this, Finland was already winning points for little surprises at every turn. And the food? Well, it tasted as good as the photo. Even the scallop nigiri, which I had never eaten before, was a revelation, as was the green tea ice cream. Aside from talking about the meet to come and the road trip, Kris started filling me in what he was doing for the second version of VirtualMeet. And later that night, once we got to his apartment (an Ikea furnished pad with one of those hidden refrigerators), he showed me the extent of all the coding work: by the time it goes live, it looks like it will have over 10K lines of code. He demonstrated the work needed to post page design, making the PM (private messaging) work, etc. It never ceases to amaze me how much work a programmer has to do, the attention to detail required, just to make a website easy to navigate and powerful to use for the rest of us. All this, while also doing coding work for IRC Galleria, the largest social network in Finland, rivaling even Facebook. Busy guy.
A side note: aside from showing me his collection of books, he showed me the kettlebells in his closet. I asked him if he was afraid that his kids might find them, and he said they've already lifted one of them. Even little Renee. Funny, it must be in the Finnish genetic code to lift heavy shit . . . . . .
"Must. Lift. Must. Lift."