Skip to content

Picture of the Day

April 28, 2017

It’s that time of year!

Spring is coming and with it, all sorts of weird and interesting weather. It’s basically squalling all the time in Espoo – nice weather intermixed with crazy winds, hail and snow – BOOM! Then a few minutes later, it’s nice and sunny again. The Little Miss remarked about that and wondered why the weather is doing what it’s doing…

Anyways, as I was leaving the arena to head home yesterday evening, there was this cool cloud. I actually drove around it on the way home.

More crazy weather to come I am sure, we’re just getting started!



Mixed feelings about bikini fitness

April 25, 2017

I just watched a documentary called Muodonmuutoksia (Director: Kati Juurus) about four Finnish women who compete in bikini fitness, which has become a favoured trend among young women. All I could think while I watched it was “starvation and abuse.”And at the time of writing this I can say I have had very little time to reflect on this, I was left feeling confused and even angry.

There was very little that was real about these women: hair colouring, heavy make-up, fake nails, breast implants, painted-on tans, unrealistic expectations and having their bikinis glued to their rear ends so they stay in place during competitions. Their “coaches” meted out punishing nutritional routines, right down to the grams of food they consumed.

What is real about living up to the standards of people who think that this is the cornerstone of beauty?

All they become when they stand on the stage to try and outdo their fellow competitors, is objects. No one in the audience, nor the judges appreciate the efforts they made to get there in the first place – it only boils down to how they look.

I understand the fitness part of it, these women were all in very good shape and trained hard. Fitness should be for life, for piece of mind, not “beauty.”

These are not role models for my daughter, so please, stay far away from her.

And I am sorry if I have offended anyone, but sport and fitness is for life and health, not these over-the-top, unrealistic standards that millions of women can never hope to live up to.

If you are in Finland (and understand Finnish), you can watch it here for the next 80 or so days:

Dokumenttiprojekti: Muodonmuutoksia

“Bikinifitness on nuorten naisten suosikkiharrastus. Se vaatii ankaraa itsekuria, tiukkaa dieettiä ja rankkaa treenaamista. Mikä saa nuoret naiset kilpailemaan keskenään ruumiin täydellisyydestä? O: Kati Juurus”

Muodonmuutoksia – via YLE, directed by Kati Juurus

Municipal elections this weekend in Finland

April 7, 2017

On Sunday, Finns will head to the polls to cast their votes in nation-wide municipal elections. Here’s some things that are on my mind. I am not sure how much elected officials can affect some of these things I have on my mind, but nonetheless. I have some bones to pick. For me important issues are the environment (pollution, waste management and recycling), public transit development, youth education, the health of youth and young adults, smart infrastructure development (enough with the destruction of green spaces already!!), sport and Laaksolahti’s future as a sports complex and arena.

A little more detail:

– Enough with the shopping malls in Espoo. I am so fed up with the encouragement to consume rather than show some restraint on that front. The two stores I’d like to see open doors in Espoo, however, are Budget Sport and Kodin Terra. That being said, we do not need anymore damn shopping malls!

– The SDP had a good little ad tacked to the back of a bus seat. One transit zone for Espoo. According to future plans from Helsinki Regional Transit, they’re proposing to make two travel zones in Espoo, which basically punishes people who live and work in Espoo (refer also to my previous entry about the Länsi Metro and how that is going to mess up my day when it comes online). (EDIT: I stand corrected based on a comment from a reader below, thank you Urmas! But in the end it is the metro that will mess up things royally…)

– A friend of mine from the ringette world has made an excellent point about the development of ice halls in Espoo – they’re all being developed in Leppävaara and along the Länsiväylä corridor in the southern part of the city. Espoon Kiekkoseura (the Espoo Hockey Club), aka EKS, which also includes ringette has their home hall in Laaksolahti. Basically all of Espoo’s ringette teams from C juniors and younger practice and play in the practice hall. The main arena in Laaksolahti was condemned a few years ago and is not being used. The local paper Länsiväylä reported last fall that the City of Espoo has no redevelopment plans for Laaksolahti. Rumour has it that the practice hall will be shut down in a few years, leaving a great deal of Espoo’s ringette players with no place to play practice. Here is a FACT: EKS has the largest ringette club in the country, with more licenced players than any other club in the country… So yet again, women and girls get the shaft again because people think we are not a priority when it comes to the development of winter sport in Espoo. BUILD A NEW COMPLEX IN LAAKSOLAHTI and stop ignoring the constituents who live in central and north Espoo!!

I tested out the YLE and Helsingin Sanomat “voting machines,” in which your responses to the same statements made by candidates can be matched to find your ideal candidate. These results of both were surprising because they came up with candidates from parties I would never dream of voting for! I have an idea of a candidate, but when it comes down to it, I tend to vote along party lines. The voting machines didn’t really help me out this time.

If you are eligible to vote, be sure to exercise that right!

Shades of winter in Savo

March 28, 2017

Last weekend we were up in Kuopio for a hockey tournament. Fortunately the Mr.’s parents live nearby, so we didn’t have to stay in a hotel.

There has been no snow in the capital region for a couple of weeks now, so winter is definitely over. Not so in Savo! I brought my snowshoes in hopes I would be able to slap them on and head into the bush. I wasn’t disappointed. There was at least 50 cm of snow in the bush – and it had a nice hard crust on it – making it absolutely superb for snowshoeing! Even the Mr.’s dad strapped them on and went to investigate around the property.

I didn’t have a lot of time, but it sure was nice to get out and enjoy the snow (which was sorely missing in southern Finland this past winter) and the bush. My dog had a great time roaring around. 🙂

The moose have been munching on the trees too… It seems they have had a harder winter than normal.

How do you know if you’ve pissed off a Finnish person?

March 2, 2017

Finns are a straightforward people, hard to make friends with; but when you do, you have a friend for life! That is the truth.

But how can you figure out if you’ve pissed someone off?

Truth is – you may not know at all, expect for subtle changes in behaviour. A person may stop interacting with you at all, leaving you rather confused. You get left out of conversations, groups and happenings. You can ask directly, but you may not get any kind of response. It’s very confusing, especially if you’re dealing with folks who don’t share the same mother tongue as you do.

I’ve experienced this a lot recently. I’ve finally gotten brave enough and interact with a lot more Finns than I did in the past. I understand that I can’t make everyone happy, but for the love of… Get over the silence and give feedback – a non-native Finn cannot expect to integrate or change if you don’t tell them what they’re doing wrong!

One thing I want people to understand is that I do NOT understand everything that is going on around me in spite of people thinking that I do. There are plenty of nuances and bits of behaviour that I am trying to get my head around (i.e. there are subjects you shouldn’t comment on). The Mr. once told me that friends of his do not like my direct approach to things or my very outspoken manner on certain subjects. Fine, but that doesn’t make me a bad person.

I come from a different culture than Finnish people, please give me a break. I may have been here for a long time, but I am still trying to figure it it all out. This is and will be a lifelong project.

I understand that the things I say and do may not make Finnish people happy, but please don’t hold it against me, I am trying, really!! It seems that if someone has a problem with you, they’ll never get past that. And geez, that really sucks. I wish that if people had a problem with my actions they would just say so, it would really do a LOT to clear up these very awkward and uncomfortable situations we find ourselves in.

Maybe it’s just me… <shrugging> <scratches head – again>


I feel like HSL is punishing me

February 21, 2017

Helsinki Regional Transport (HSL/HRT), the public transit authority in the Helsinki region, has undergone a huge transformation in the last few years. When I first moved here and was using public transit to get around, the regional transport network only included Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen. If you took the train outside of those municipalities, you travelled in what was Finnish State Rail territory (VR). Several bus companies in surrounding municipalities had their own fee schedules and so on for people travelling to the HSL/HRT region from outlying communities.

That has changed a lot in recent years: expansion of the rail network to Leppävaara (finished long ago!), the development of Kamppi and the mail railway station in Helsinki to accommodate regional bus traffic, the expansion of the rail network to include a direct connection to Lahti, the airport railway network expansion and several municipalities negotiating to join the HSL/HRT network – the most recent of those being Tuusula just a week or so ago.

Of course up to this point I have failed to mention the West Metro (Länsimetro) expansion to Espoo, which should have opened up last August (to much fanfare and massive changes to bus transport in Espoo). The project has had cost overruns and been plagued by safety issues, which have significantly delayed its opening. I won’t spend a lot of time delving into the history of the delays, all you have to do is put “West Metro Espoo” into any search engine and you’ll get a pretty comprehensive look at the issue.

While I can normally get around quite easily in Espoo by bus, I do have an issue with the rearranging of the bus network that I depend on to get from home to work and back again. Once the new schedules come on line (whenever the metro opens), I will have to take two buses to get to and from work (plus a lot of walking to get to the right stop), totalling well over two hours spent walking and being on public transit per day. I live and work in Espoo and I feel like I am going to be punished for using public transport. We have been a one-car family for YEARS and we have managed to work things out quite well. That looks set to change.

I already get up at a crazy early hour to get to work and put in a full day, as the Mr. has the car the most of the time. I take the Little Miss to and from her hobbies in the evening and on weekends (with the car – or we get a ride when needed). I have a feeling that our current routine will change a lot next season, she is getting older, so the practice times will change as will the game and tournament schedules… Let’s just say, that with those changes coming, I really can’t afford to spend a lot of time on public transit. I need to make efficient use of my time – and spending 10 hours+ per week on public transit in Espoo (where I remind you, I work and live), is not at all efficient. I hate to say it: I think we need to get a second car.

I didn’t want to do this HSL, but you have practically forced my hand by punishing those who live and work in Espoo and use public transit to get around…

It was time: A Paralympian for Athlete of the Year

January 24, 2017

Last week I scratched something off of my bucket list: to attend the annual Finnish Sports Gala (Urheilugaala) in Helsinki. It’s my understanding that this past gala was the 10th anniversary, which is kind of a cool thing since Finland is celebrating 100 years of independence this year.

A lot of people I talked to were surprised to find out that the sports gala is open to the public and that the tickets were so cheap – only 19,50 a piece – definitely a great deal! We arrived a couple hours ahead of time so that we could check things out at the Hartwall Areena. Since it was a “gala,” we dressed up a little. The main floor was covered with a red carpet and there were lots of booths to stop at and bits of history to look at too. The Little Miss was able to snag some autographs from Ari-Pekka Liukkonen (the giant swimmer who stands at 2.09 m) and Jani Kukkola (a member of Finland’s World Champion salibandy team). It was really nice to meet these gentlemen in person and cool for the Little Miss too. 🙂 I’ll let the photos explain themselves…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One of the highlights of the night was the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was awarded to 92 year-old Siiri  “Äitee” Rantanen and 96 year-old Lydia Widemen, who were both award winning cross-country skiers in the 1950s and early 1960s. To see both of those women make their way to the stage to accept their award was a great moment.

Leo-Pekka Tähti finally (emphasis definitely needed) won the title he has been so deserving of for many years. The reluctance of Finland’s sporting media establishment to select him as Athlete of the Year in the past just shows how unprepared they are to embrace Paralympic sport as mainstream in this country. (Thankfully Canada crossed that bridge many years ago when Chantal Petitclerc, a multiple-medal winning Paralympian in wheelchair racing, was named as Canada’s Athlete of the Year – being awarded the Lou March Trophy in 2008.)

I was really disappointed with YLE News in English, as they decided to call Tähti the “Sports Personality of the Year,” which to me does nothing more than diminish his achievements as an athlete. I’ve yet to get a confirmation from the crew at Urheilugaala that this is indeed the accepted English translation of “Vuoden urheilija.” Everyone else I have asked has said the correct translation is “Athlete of the Year.” (Update: Apparently this is related to the style of English the media outlets are using. The accepted British English translation is apparently “Sports Personality of the Year,” which is what YLE News adheres to. Fair enough, but I don’t agree with it.)

That being said, this year’s Athlete of the Year in Finland was definitely the right choice. Congratulations Leo-Pekka Tähti, your time to shine is finally here!

The daily Helsingin Sanomat had a full page spread on Tähti the following day

The daily Helsingin Sanomat had a full page spread on Tähti the following day

And I didn’t have to eat my hat… 🙂