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Picture of the Day

December 16, 2014

The daily paper Helsingin Sanomat also produces a monthly supplement called Kuukausiliite, which basically translates to “monthly supplement.”

The December edition featured an article about Finnish swimmer Ari-Pekka Liukkonen and one page had a photo of his hand – life-sized. If you have never heard of Ari-Pekka before, know this – he’s a really tall guy – 2.08m or 6’10” to be exact.

The Little Miss and and I had a good laugh this morning when she put her hand on the picture. :D

APL-hand

Things I didn’t know last week

December 9, 2014

So how much wiser have I become lately?

1. I actually found out about this a couple weeks ago, but I am reporting it now. I have a couch (sofa) that needs to be recovered. I’ll be damned if I am forced into buying a new couch just because the cover on the current one is wearing out. We bought this couch just over 10 years ago and it has survived a baby-toddler-now school-aged kid. It is a solid piece of construction and it desrves some work rather than being ceremoniously dumped at a recycling centre or worse yet – in the landfill.

I sent e-mail to six different entrepreneurs in Espoo and Vantaa and we now have an appointment to meet with one before Christmas. There is country-wide association of these professionals, if you ever need this kind of work done, be sure to check it out!

We owe it to people who do this kind of work for living. It might cost some money, but you’re keeping an entrepreneur employed, the money in your locality and material out of the landfill.

2. My company’s Christmas party was at Nosturi a couple weeks ago. Nosturi (translation: crane) is located in an industrial area in southwest Helsinki. It used to be a cargo terminal hall, but was transformed into a bar and concert venue in 1999. It is currently owned by ELMU, the Association of Live Music (Elävän musiikin yhdistys). Nosturi serves some 100,000 patrons a year and has hosted some popular bands like: HIM, Apulanta, Lordi, the Bloodhound gang, Anthrax and Motörhead. Apparently there are plans to tear Nosturi down to make way for residential buildings. Shame, really…

In asking around at work, it appeared that many had never been to Nosturi before – an experience for us all.

3. I scour the magazines I get in the mail for new information and here is what I learned by reading parts of the December 2014 edition of Pirkka lehti. These were based on the responses of 1677 people between the ages of 16 and 75 earlier this year.

Products or logos that best describe Finnishness:

  • The Finnish flag (24%)
  • Sauna (17%)
  • Rye bread (13%)
  • Fazer blue (chocolate)
  • Aalto vases
  • Alvar Aalto furniture
  • Koskenkorva (alcohol)
  • Products and buildings made of wood
  • Salmiakki
  • Muumi

These products must continue to be made/manufactured/produced in Finland:

  • Rye bread (54%)
  • Fazer products (46%)
  • Valio (dairy) products (46%)
  • Milk
  • Ships and icebreakers
  • Fiskars products
  • Arabia products
  • Iittala
  • Paper
  • Marimekko

How many of these are on your Christmas list? ;)

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Souvenirs from Finland

December 5, 2014
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Do you ever buy souvenirs when you travel? When I came here in 1997 I never thought I would be coming back, so I bought some nice things home with me. When I moved back, I brought them back with me. :) I still buy Finnish stuff and handicrafts and it still feels like buying a souvenir.

I am one of these shoppers that looks for Christmas presents all year round, so I am always happy to score a good buy when I find something suitable to give as a gift. When I buy handicrafts or locally made goods they’re usually for someone in Canada – and I let people know that. The creator of said piece is always pleased to hear that their stuff is headed to the other side of the pond.

Anyways, so what do I have in my collection of Finnish-made stuff? Here’s a smattering, I have more of course…

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Have you ever bought or been given a souvenir from Finland that you treasure? Tell me about it!

Picture of the Day

November 25, 2014

We had some snow last week and unfortunately it is already melting. :(

The Little Miss lived in the moment and made a snowman. The beauty of every snowman is they’re unique and always different.

<smile>

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Things I didn’t know last week

November 17, 2014

This is what I love about Finland, there is something to learn every day! So what have I learned recently?

A couple weeks ago my cousin asked me about a disease that has occurred in our family in Canada and wondered if it was more common in Finland. A quick search turned up an organization called The Finnish Network for Rare Diseases (Harvinaiset-verkosto), which was formed in 1995 to help support to help patients and their families living with a rare disease. The organization brings together NGOs, health care professionals, service providers and the member organizations.

Foreigners in Finland have some serious issues with something as simple as opening a bank account. In this day and age it is nearly impossible to live without a bank card, let alone being without a bank account. My previous entry touched on that and other bureaucracy foreigners run into. I have been here so long that these are things that I don’t really have to deal with anymore. I feel sorry for the folks who do.

The Finnish Book Foundation represents the interests of book publishers in Finland working on common interests such as “publishing, the distribution of literature, reading and freedom to publish in Finland.” There are over 100 members in the Finnish Book Foundation and 14 of Finland’s oldest book publishers were established back in the 1800s! Who knew!?

There are nearly 43,000 people over the age of 90 in Finland! That number is expected to increase dramatically by 2040, when there are expected to be 150,000 people over the age of 90. If we are already experiencing challenges with elder care now, what will it be like to be old in the future? While on the subject of our elders, some 2500 of them still have a valid driver’s licence, although the majority of them do not drive anymore. Two-thirds of this cohort still live in their own homes and 70 percent of the them live alone according to Statistics Finland. Only one-fifth of the over 90s are men. (Helsingin Sanomat featured an article about the over 90s in the November 16, 2014 edition.)

I’ve decided to make this a new category of entries when I report to you, so look for more of this soon!

Crowd-sourcing infrastructure projects in times of austerity

November 4, 2014

In Finnish there is this word “talkoot.” “Talkootyö” translates to volunteer work.

I have often questioned why we can’t get things done by having more talkoot when government cutbacks affect services and infrastructure maintenance.

Just last week the front page of Metro (the free paper distributed in the capital area) had a photo of dozens of people raking leaves in the city’s main park, Kaiviopuisto as part of a “talkoot” to get the park cleaned up for the fall. If I remember this was an initiative of the City of Helsinki, which offered drinks and small snacks to all of the volunteers as a reward.

My kid’s school needs some fixing, our “home” arena needs some serious renovation and will be out of commission until 2017 (!), so why can’t we help the process along? We can help – we don’t need to build, let’s leave that to the professionals. We can remove materials, bring in the new stuff, do all the little toby jobs that don’t require professional qualifications and the let pros get our infrastructure back into shape.

I have also questioned why more Finnish people don’t voluntarily adopt a park or a stretch of highway to keep it clean. The first services to go in times of austerity are parks and recreation maintenance…

I realize this a larger question of infringing on the rights of unionized workers, but isn’t there something Joe or Jane Public can do to help? Why don’t the municipalities communicate these things? Or am I missing something that is already out there?

A talkoot now and then would reduce the costs of getting things done and bring more of a community spirit, would it not?

I know what will happen if I ask though (in typical bureaucratic fashion in Finland): You can’t do that.

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