Friday, 29 December 2006

Just fine


Always at the end of the year all odd statistics tend to pop up.

Like that every inhabitant in Finland make 460 kgs of garbage. Or that of the total amount of wood used in this country 46% was burned up as fuel and only 24% was used into making paper or pulp. And that the weather has been warmest in Finland in 100 years this year being one in the top 15 with 59 days of summer temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius.

And did you know that your Dry Martini glass is either half-empty if you are of a pessimistic nature and half-full if you are of optimistic nature. Just depending on your own attitude and point of view.

So, statistically you are fine if you have one leg up to your crotch in freezing water with ice-cubes floating in it and the other leg up to your crotch in boiling water, as statistically you are not too cold, nor too hot.

?!?

Wednesday, 27 December 2006

Black Xmas


Sounds a bit ominous, like the black plague or something but that is the term for no snow-Xmas here in Finland. And that it was in most parts of the country except for way up north. It must then be good for all the homeless then, as it is not as cold as normally. I think it is strange that there actually are people with no homes here in this country, with the weather we normally have in the winter. For 100 years now the Xmas cauldron has been on the streets in this country to collect money during the week before Xmas for people without the means to have a Xmas, and I think it is a disgrace that it still is needed as much today as it was a century ago! I do not understand this talk about Finland as a state of welfare and social security not at Xmas or any other day! Several hundred people are sleeping outdoors as they have nowhere to stay. Maybe this should be the meaning of black Xmas?

Anyway, if something unexpected happened to you like losing your job or becoming ill, then it might take up to 3 months before you start receiving any money, so where do you go then?!? You might end up on the street yourself.

No food, no money for the rent, nowhere to store your things, you just loose everything! And the Finnish Lutheran mind is taught to cope on its’ own, without any help. So even if you would be eligible for social benefits to get by economically so many people do just struggle by, day by day.

Thank God I have a kettle and it is on. And there will soon be a nice cup of tea for me!

Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Difficult eating

Xmas is always a difficult time if you are into serious TV-watching as no advertising is allowed on TV at Xmas in Finland. How on earth ere you supposed to be able to get your sandwiches in between the programs if no ads in between?!?

Or my biggest Xmas problem being that Donald Duck is not on TV at 3 pm as every year before, so I have recorded it to have it on TV to get the Xmas going at the right hour!

Thank God for burning DVD’s and digi-boxes able to save the programs on their hard-drives!

If they did not exits we would not have to do any promises on New Year’s Eve that we do not keep anyway, as one of the most common one must be to loose some weight, at least after Xmas as it is the time for merriment and to eat. According to the Norse tradition you were to eat as much pork as possible and the midwinter solstice so the coming year would be as giving and plentiful in wealth and harvest as possible, so what we actually still do at Xmas, over eat, is an old pagan tradition, to over-eat!

Monday, 25 December 2006

Holy midnight-mass

Funny little protestant me had to move all the way here to Finland to get closely acquainted with the Catholic Church because of close friends happens to be Catholics!

There is quite a lot to be aware of when participating in a catholic mass being an outsider. For example you can’t go and have communion but you can join the others that participate in the Holy Communion and be blessed by the priest by holding your right hand over your left shoulder.

But the best part of it all is that the congregation keep its' parties together. Image how nice and cosy to go to the Midnight-mass on Christmas Eve and all gather for coffee and chats afterwards in the middle of the night, children and adults and elders instead of having to wake up early in the freezing morning to go to church. Well, this year it was not that cold but anyway.

So now I am considering converting to Catholicism as I prefer to sleep long in the mornings.

Sunday, 24 December 2006

Xmas cards

Every year 250000 cards are destroyed by the postal authorities due to wrong or incomplete addresses. They say that a little more attention is paid to tracing the recipient of other consignments such as letters and parcels.

Sad but true that your Xmas card might not arrive to the recipient if you do not have the right the postal code. And on top of that, if you have a common name, and the street address exist in many towns then you might not get all the cards sent to you. But, if you do have an unusual name, as a friend of mine, who received a Xmas card from abroad with just his Surname and the country. The card was delivered just in time before Xmas too, even though it must’ve been sent very late. That must be a Xmas miracle!

Friday, 22 December 2006

Christmas calendar for grown-ups

When we first moved to Finland I used to say that I must remember to buy myself a Xmas calendar lottery ticket, and as the years went by I always forgot to buy the calendar, then I couple years ago my husband remembered it and since then he always buys me one every December. It is ever so thrilling to every morning first I make myself a nice cup of tea and I scrape off the cover of that day’s door on the lottery-ticket and see what is in there. And every year I have had 8 Santa Clauses, out of 9 possible. If you have 9 you win 10.000 Euros, which would be great shopping!

Anyway, I think it is great that they have come up with this more grown up idea of a calendar, instead of chocolates for kids with this one you might win some money!

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Surviving gingerbread-hell

One of our Christmas traditions has been baking gingerbread and most of the years it has always developed into hell making them.

Traditionally I make the gingerbread dough myself, as I am very picky about the taste and we have tried various doughs during the years, some were very tasty but almost impossible to make any gingerbread cookies of, others were easy to bake but tasted nothing like the gingerbread used to when I was a child.

Anyway, the off-spring normally has been making the cookies with various results depending on their age and ability. As long as this Christmas tradition has been going on it has always sooner (which means fighting about having to bake the cookies) or later (having fights with the dough been thrown around in the kitchen) become hell, at least for me.

Do you know what I mean here ?!?

Well, this year for the first time there was no fights, no tears just peaceful cooking activities in the kitchen! And only minor cleaning for me to do afterwards.

I must be getting old as it does not distress me as much anymore, or might it be that the off-spring has become older to behave better? Are they finally growing up?

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

A blended family Xmas

What about a blended family Xmas?

Is it possible to juggle together a nice, pleasant family Xmas if you live in a blended family with visitation rights? As more and more families live this parting and visiting as part of their everyday life, just trying to make it fit for everybody is hard, or is to impossible?

For example, a friend of mine remarried some years ago, (and a nice wedding it was, and what a hat I wore!) she has a daughter from her previous marriage and the father has visitation rights on holidays and extended weekends as he lives abroad, and her “new” husband has two sons that live with their mother and they are supposed to be visiting their father very other weekend, as also every other Xmas and other holidays as is customary here in Finland.

So can you plan when also taking in consideration your other family as well, as Finnish tradition is to get together with your family on Xmas Eve? It means that you visit your maternal and paternal grandparents at alternating Xmases together with your own siblings, (the aunts and uncles of your own children), and their cousins.

Guess this means Family Xmas here.

(And it can mean a lot of people if you have 7 brothers and sisters together with their spouses and children, as another good friend of mine has.)

Anyway, this other friend of mine has so far not had one Xmas that has worked out as planned!

Their children are supposed to be at “home” every other Xmas, every paired year like now 2006, both her own child and the husband’s children the same Xmas. Every other Xmas of these when the children are at home, they are to be alternating every Xmas Eve with her parents and his parents house.

So every other Xmas they are supposed to have a family-Xmas, and every other Xmas they are free, without any kids at all, like a honeymoon. Or at least they should be free and celebrating a new honeymoon. But always something has ruined their planned Xmas vacation in the sun.

Last year the daughter’s visiting got cancelled by her father, meaning cancellation of travelling plans to the sun. Or the Xmas before when the sons were on a Xmas-cruise to Sweden with their mother and did not turn up at all at their own grandmothers! How do you explain that to your old grandmother of 90 years? You just hope it is not one of her clear days and that she forgets about it fast.

So it seems that they have a Xmas tradition of not having their plans work out any Xmas.

I wonder if they do too much planning instead of go as it comes?

But I am a bit envious on her I have to confess, as I do not have any relatives to go to at Xmas here in Finland. My grandmother is dead and I would prefer to stay at home for Xmas anyway, so no harm done in the end.

Thursday, 7 December 2006

89th anniversary

Finnish independence of 89 years was celebrated yesterday.

MTV Finland has been around for about a year, and this Independence Day the 6th of December they had Finland versus Occupants, which means what?!?

As far as I know Finland never has been occupied by anyone, it belonged to Sweden for several hundred years, then was lost to the Russians in 1809 and was an autonomic, self-governed part of the Russian empire to become independent in 1917.

So anyway, who occupied Finland or which country did Finland occupy? As the songs played on this list were Finnish, Swedish, German and Russian.

The annual Independence Day festivities always culminate later in the evening in the reception at the President’s residency, The Castle, as it is more commonly called. This year the Eurovision song-contest winners the hard-rock band Lordi was invited to it. Well, no masked monsters in row to be seen to shake hands in TV with the President, so guess they were not able to attend. Anyway, this is the time when you get together to comment on people’s clothes as it the reception is broadcasted on TV. And the tastes vary very much from side to side.

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Ski-jumping

My theory about having to be stupid enough to ski-jump has now been destroyed. There is a new kid on the block and he’s studying law, so I was wrong. I always thought you had to be stupid enough to jump with your skis on.

Tell you what, this is the only time I have ever been wrong about anything, ever!

So I guess my husband will rub this on into my nose for a long, long time.

Wednesday, 29 November 2006

Serious TV-shopping

I have always wondered about this phenomenon called TV-shopping and getting addicted to it. I know a couple of women who are passionate TV-shoppers, they just can’t resist anything they see sold on TV!

Repetitive and brainwashing advertising on the TV going on for hours.
Slimming underwear, slimming exercise equipment and slimming lotions to only mention a few and not forgetting about all excellent household appliances and equipment they offer you.

And the stuff they sell is ever so “inexpensive” and clever that you can’t live without it. And as you are told “and this is not all, you also get this bonus for free” with an “unbelievable discount” because of some made up reason you just feel you have to get it.

And all this on a months interest-free credit! Only the posting, packaging and handling fees added on top of the price, which most certainly makes up at least half of the real price to be paid.

So you end up collecting a huge pile of consignments to get home from the Post-office. And home you are with several not so clever malfunctioning gadgets and appliances and have no idea where to place them as your closets are already filled with your earlier purchases.

Oh Gosh, today they have a brand new item I’ve never seen before!

Guess the girls will be doing some serious shopping again.

Monday, 27 November 2006

Relationships breaking up

One trend of modern society is that marriages do not last very long and that relationships do not last as long they used to, say 50 years ago. I guess a lot of the marriages were not happier than they are today but you just had to stick together. Through thick and thin.

Which might have been good on bringing up the children, but certainly not on the parents. Today relationships are broken more easily and these blended families get to be the family reality a great deal of people live in today.

But there is one good thing about it, marriages breaking up I mean.

At least for me as I happened to just live weddings. How fun is it not go to your best friends fourth wedding?!? Getting to spend money on the gifts for the happy couple (no matter how long the happiness lasts) buying a new outfit, hat, shoes and a handbag to go with it. And the best of all, a brand new hat!

I just love weddings!

So I am quite pleased with this new trend of more divorces.
Only bad thing though, I hate winter-weddings as there are no good looking hats to wear!

Monday, 20 November 2006

Running with reindeers?

The length of reindeers’ pee has been tried to be measured and established scientifically.

What on earth am I talking about now?

Okay, imagine Lapland way up north and the Laplanders, the Laps, living there amongst the snow and cold with their reindeers, Santa Claus and all the elves. Hardly no light at all during the winter months, maybe they have nothing better to do?

Anyway, the reindeers are said run a specific length between the times it pees and I think this is research doen by some university. As the Laps use their reindeers to get around in the winter, it seems essential to know how far the reindeer goes without peeing.

I just wonder why?

For not getting wet when sitting in a sleigh behind the reindeer, or what as today they probably use their snowmobiles getting places anyway.

Well, there might be some truth in the jokes being made about the Laplanders measuring their land and property in reindeer’s pees-lengths. So how many reindeers are nowadays followed around the clock by research teams to establish the length between it goes?

Must be one stressful job, running with reindeers.

Sunday, 19 November 2006

Santa Lucia?

I am used to celebrate Santa Lucia on December 13th, and also here in Finland the Swedish-speaking part of the population celebrates the same catholic saint from Smyrna in Sicily if I remember it correctly. Lucia with a candle-lit crown is the bringer of light in the dark northern night, just before the light changes to grow again on December 21st.

Beautiful blonde girls dressing up in white traditional old-fashioned nightgowns, candles in their hands singing traditional Christmas Carrols and reciting poems to the merriment of the others.

Lucia with her maiden companions visit schools, hospitals and retirement-homes to cheer people up, they also have traditional public appearances outdoors. This is quite a nice tradition I think, but I am always as surprised as last time I saw it, when I see how tall the candles in the Finnish Lucia’s candle-crown are!

They must be especially made and hard to wear with the candles that tall and to walk around with them lit!

Anyway, this year the Finnish Lucia went to court the President on December 19th, which I think is quite odd.

Guess this must be one off the things I will keep on wondering about here.

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

No more holy Finnish trinity

In the old farming community about a century ago there used to be a “holy trinity" in every village here in Finland that everyone had to obey.

It consisted of the school-teacher, the doctor and the priest and they were the wisest and wealthiest and no one had any means to oppose them as they usually also were the village elders. The Trinity taught everyone to obey without any objections.

Now, how is this today?

Older people still respect “the trinity” and do not express their differing opinion in front of them, they do talk behind their backs though. Younger people are more straightforward and tell what they think. So the teachers are in trouble as the youngsters of today are not as respectful as they were less than a century ago. It is now the pupils hitting the teacher instead of the other way as it used to.

The Lutheran priests are celebrating mass on Sundays in empty churches, as the young ones here in Finland begin to practise the much more freer New Age and pagan religions The same as they recently have begun to do in so many other Western countries. The church has nothing to offer people anymore, too stiff and rigid.

Even the doctors have less influence than before and they can be wrong too, and they even admit being wrong sometimes. I have few a couple of them, but some doctors still think they are next to God.

I just came from an appointment with a very rude doctor who told me off in a very rude way for no reason at all. I can't see why asking a perfectly relevant question to the issue at hand to triggered that abusive answer. It must have been her time of the month, and it is so sad to always have to explain female reactions with the same answer.

Well, she would not have been a waitress for very long. Not even a cheap and sleazy hamburger-bar, I tell you, not with her attitude!

Anyway, I'm out of there, problem solved, the sun is shining, and I am enjoying a nice cup of hot tea.
So life goes on and tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

Health-care issues

There is a shortage of qualified doctors in Finland, both in the public and private sectors and it is an ever growing shortage of several hundreds of doctors, which might not sound a lot but is when coming to receiving the proper medical care when needed in your own home region!

Nurses are headhunted abroad to other countries where there is a shortage of trained nurses. Many of the hospitals in the country are struggling with their mildew sanitation as mildew has become a nuisance and hazardous to the health of the people working in the hospitals.

At the same time Alternative medicine practitioners are lobbying for an official alternative therapist register to prevent uneducated charlatans to cash money on the illness of people.

Do you see what I am going on about? Why are things made so difficult when the answer many times is just in front of your eyes?!?

Less rigidness on what we have always done before, more learning about new things so life is easier for everyone!

No need for more doctors if nurses are given more pay, hospitals are made healthier and treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractics and homeopathy are accepted alongside with traditional western medicine.

Complimentary medicine is less expensive and sometimes more efficient. I can say, that my health would have been much worse if I had not received alternative medical help years ago, and it would have been both quite costly and time consuming with traditional health-care as it would by then not have been detectable in any tests or X-rays. (But now it can be detected, so I have proof.)

Healthcare can not only be about erasing the symptoms of the disease, it should also be about preventing getting the disease and its' symptoms before they become chronic. Prevention of disease should be prioritized!

In China the doctors are to this day supposed to keep you healthy and treat the disease before it is breaks out. And in earlier days, long time ago in, they used to kill the imperial doctors when the Emperor was taken ill. How’s that for motivation to prevent your patients from catching a disease?

Monday, 13 November 2006

Winter-sports and global-warming

The traditional Father’s Day was celebrated this Sunday on nice winter weather. Our daddy got a nice rose-scented body-lotion for massaging his aching feet after a hard day’s work. But Don’t you dare tell anyone about it!

I noticed that the winter arrived earlier this year than ever, and that summer lasted much longer than experienced I have here in Finland before, so I do wonder about the global warning we are told about in the media all the time.

What is wrong with longer and warmer summers as long as the winter also is longer? Doesn’t that kind of take each other out?!?

Anyway, now the season for winter-jogging bare-chested is open. Yes, you did read it correctly, there are men jogging bare-chested in the winter. And I really do hope only men do it ! If not then it would be something for Playboy to write about.

There also is a widespread habit of winter-bathing in the lakes in Finland. They say it really is invigorating and gets the endorphins going. Supposed to be good for many ailments such as arthritis for instance, but not good at all for heart-trouble though. I might consider going swimming after a steaming hot sauna in an icy lake but I doubt about the sanity of jogging bare-chested for women, unless wearing a good bra!

Thursday, 9 November 2006

Bear-warning!

Today the peaceful little town of Hämeenlinna is not as safe as any other day.
Today the town has got a lethal visitor, a bear roaming around in the town.

Imagine, a real wild, living bear just walking around, loose, in the town you live in!

A bear-alert has been announced and people are told to avoid the town-centre and to take the children by car instead of letting them walk as they normally would do. The bear has so far shown no aggressiveness according to the news, but they are still hunting him down with guns and dogs.

Maybe the life in a big city is not as dangerous and daring as in the rural countryside here in Finland after all?

Wednesday, 8 November 2006

More corruption?

Finland is the least corrupt country in the world together with Iceland and Switzerland if I remember it correctly.

That is according to Transparency International that just made their research results public. No bribing officials or clerks here, or medical staff in hospitals for that matter.

No wonder things do take their time to get done.

Strange how some hospitals have a bad reputation, it is just the same all over the world.
There are rumours, not always quite true but certainly some parts right, that “don’t go there is you’re not healthy, you could die”. Well, certainly true if you are a vegetarian, there is not much they serve you to eat.

One friend of mine has a thyroid condition and is on and off quite poorly. She woke up in the middle of one night and couldn’t breathe, so her husband called for an ambulance. After a couple of hours waiting for the doctor in the hospital the strong painkillers she was on began to wear off so she asked the nurse, (a male-nurse by the way), if she could have some painkillers. The answer was that she could not have any before the doctor would see her and had she not taken her medicines with her? What?!?

Taken her medicines with her to the hospital when leaving in an emergency?

And what kind of hospital requires that you bring your own medication?!?

None that I have heard of earlier even allows patients to take their own medications due to insurance policies. Result, no painkillers and had to wait for the doctor. No way of the nurse asking the doctor if some painkillers could be given in the meantime, while waiting.

After three more hours of killing agony the doctor finally had time to see my friend, just to say she was in no danger with her heart, which was no news after five hours of waiting as the hearts’ racing had stopped hours earlier. So she just got dismissed.

And that was fortunate for her, as another acquaintance of mine went minor for surgery throat in that same hospital, a standard procedure “a walk in the park” she was told, and woke up at after an emergency-operation in another hospital, in-tubated and just to find out she could have died during the operation, and that her vocal-cords were so badly injured that she would have difficulties to ever speak again.

Not to mention the bills she received afterwards for their mishaps and the correcting surgery that was needed to mend her vocal-cords.

Anyway, now she is talking again and sometimes I hope she still was in-tubated…But maybe some presents to the staff would have gotten them better treatment, at least in some other country that is.

Friday, 3 November 2006

The quietness...

...after the snow-storm. At last no wind blowing. How wonderful.
Total quietness.

No more tin-roofs rattling in the wind no more hot-cocoa cuddled up on the sofa watching the film “Das Boot” when the town-buses are in a chaos. No matter how many times I watch that film I always cry in the end. Enduring such hardship only to…well I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it yet.

I have always enjoyed to live on the top-floor but during hard wind it is no joy at all listening to the tin roof-rattling in the hard wind and worrying about it blowing off, as it did a couple of years ago. It actually did blow off once, during the summer when we had just moved into this place. Parts of the tin-rooftop blew off during a gale and after the following heavy rains our fish-tank began to fill itself with the water pouring down through the ceiling.

So no more hot-cocoa for this girl, best get back to my business, pretending to be hardworking housewife!

Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Into the darkness

We are now once again entering the darkness of winter here in Finland.

The winter-time was set back onto the clocks on Sunday so now the days feel much shorter and darker and you get more gloomy and depressed, going towards Christmas until the light change and begin to return again.

They also lowered the speed-limits with 10 kms an hour on the roads last week for safer winter circulation, and right now we are also experience the worst snow-storm in a decade! I am so glad we have not had any electricity break-downs here, yet, as many households in the area are without electricity in this storm.

And my offspring never made it to school today due to the snow-storm, which is not very common here. Normally you just get by no matter how much snow there s falling from the sky, but hey, guess this is no “falling” from the sky, more like pouring down on you from all directions.

A journey by bus about a mile long, that normally would take about 5 minutes with all the bus-stops between, took 45 minutes this morning. So the journey to school would have taken 4 hours today with that speed, with the wind blowing straight from the direction you were heading at and probably some accident somewhere on the way slowing down circulation.

Thank God for mobile-phones, they got a phonecall from school and were told they could stay home today so they returned home with the next bus, which only took the normal 5 minutes coming this way. They were so happy to be able to stay home today! So now they’re home to disturb mum’s housework.

Guess that is what I am doing right now…is it?!?

“Darling, could you please make mummy a nice cup of hot tea?”

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Washing-machine-trouble

I have lately had some trouble with my washing-machine.

All of a sudden it stopped during so I rang the service company and luckily they had some ideas. So I reset my expensive digital-washing-machine and tried again and nothing happened. So here am I with the machine filled with water and can’t get the machine emptied, or the clothes to dry. Not to mention knowing if they were clean or not?!?

After several phone-calls and several attempts to get the machine going again there finally came some good advice, open the bottom hatch to empty the water, check the sill and see if there are any loose objects stuck into it and clean the sill. Now I could open the door and get the clothes out to dry. Okay, done.

Soaking-wet clothes on a line smelling of washing detergent. Yew!
So as the bathroom-floor was soaking wet I got the clever idea of washing it.

Here my husband could tell you, that whenever I get a clever idea, it always is dangerous and almost certainly ends up in tears, in one way or another. So I began washing the floor, and me and wet floors are a lethal combination, at least to myself that is. Of course I slipped on the floor and fell. I fell with my back on top of the toilet-seat, almost instantly bruised black and blue from my ribs to my pelvis, not being able to bend at all in any direction at all.

I am so glad that my beloved husband did not laugh this time either.
Not until much later, when I laugh at it myself. Much, much later this time.

So the next morning after a long night full of agony and not enough strong painkillers, I get up and ring the service-guy once again asking about the warranty of the machine. Here tells me that it is okay but had I checked the exhaust water pipe yet?

I am so glad I did not have to bend in any direction or get down on my knees to check this out, just washed some residue out of the pipe and got the machine going and put the questionably clean clothes run through the machine one more time just to make sure...

But hey, who said the life of a housewife is easy?

Friday, 20 October 2006

Flight attendants on strike

There probably never is a convenient time for a strike but this one is one of the better suited, this weekend there is a big EU-summit in Lahti, which should get some things stirred up with the flight-attendants and stewards of the national airline Finnair are on strike and the airport aircraft-service personnel supporting them with their own strike.

If it not is enough trouble to be travelling nowadays with all the new flight security regulations.

Now all we need on top of this would be a strike of the customs personnel so nobody gets in and nobody gets out. And a police strike at the same time and havoc will prevail with all the gathering protesters against globalisation or whatever they protest against that always gather around these Top-politician-meetings…

God I am getting depressed, I need a nice cup of tea!

Monday, 9 October 2006

Electricity shortage during the winter?

Last winter there was a shortage of electricity in Finland and the country is preparing by getting reserve Power-plants into stand-by mode to be better prepared than last winter.

There is now even talks about “fining” the industry and ordinary people if they have to use their washing-machines or dishwashers at cold-peaks by having to pay for extra expensive electricity. A kind of a fine when there is a shortage.

Well, how are you supposed to know when it is going to be extra cold if making your Christmas turkey in the oven for hours and hours?

One thing is for sure, the price of electricity has been increasing lately.

Guess we’ll just go bankrupt this year! Or maybe it won't be until next year?

Sunday, 8 October 2006

Absolute ruling

Having the opportunity of being able to follow Finnish television as well as other European TV broadcasts and their news is quite interesting, as you notice how differently the same thing is presented the news concerning the eastern neighbour to Finland.

In European news they just say how it is, but here in Finland things are smoothened a bit and not all is said out aloud, things are more hinted at...

So here I go then, the eastern neighbour has been quite aggressive in their foreign policies and statements about their energy politics in summits with the EU, and about the ratifications of borders with some of their neighbours, and with it getting easier granted visas into the EU for their citizens, even talks about abolishing the need of visas into EU.

The army and defence forces of the eastern neighbour are expanding and growing stronger, and Finland is by them considered being "an ally to the NATO forces", and according to their recent statements done by military officials “the neighbouring countries should not fear us but should instead take us in concideration being an opposition to respect”.

Lately there has been a centralization of power in the east like when the Czars used to rule with less democracy for the people. Well, now with only one year to go to the free, democratic elections, and the current president not being eligible anymore in the coming elections, well, time is running out and so they have begun to propose various solutions for this problem already.

With a change of laws, a little reformation of the same and the current president can be elected for a third time, maybe even for more than three times and if also the proposition of extending the length of the time the president stay in power, well then they are going back to the days of the empire with one absolute ruler.

Sunday, 1 October 2006

Smoking prohibited on your own balcony!

As it has not been custom for quite some years to smoke indoors in your home here in Finland, the Finns have been going outdoors into the yard or onto their balconies to get their doses of cigarette-smoke. I think that has been quite nice and considerate to take into account all the other people present, not forcing them to be passive smokers. Now there is a building society here in Finland that has banned smoking completely in the building.

Which means that people living in that building are not allowed to smoke on their own balconies!

I always thought that the balcony of an apartment belongs to your home which would mean that you are in the privacy of your home. And nobody could impose restrictions upon what you do in your own privacy. I’d hate anyone to tell me what to cook for dinner tonight!

Well, I am an ex-smoker myself, and find it annoying to have to inhale the smoke someone else just have exhaled when opening a window, but hey, we just inhaled most of Carelia this summer!

Sunday, 24 September 2006

Deo-devils and Wax-virgins

Here in Finland there is a strange tendency to take things to the outrage in one way or another. To be subtly balancing on the edge is out of the question. For example, a woman dresses up to kill. Hair done beautifully, make up perfect and here comes the flaw in the picture: no perfume, no deodorant at all, just a pungent smell of sweat!

Then you get the bag-lady type who is not dressed up at all but has a nice scent of expensive perfume surrounding her like a cloud. By the way, I have heard about a man making his million by collecting refundable bottles in the dustbins. I have seen him in town and guess what, the smell is just awful! But, I have been told that when dresses up for going out, nobody recognizes him as the same guy with his suit on.

Then you get the teenagers that are always dressed to kill no matter what time of day it is and have used the whole bottle of perfume or used all the deodorant, a so called deo-devil. Also there is a tendency in the men from more southern areas of the world to exaggerate their use of perfume which is especially noticeable in elevators without any supplement of fresh air. And that’s when the migraine hits you.

Most people here are quite hairless, or at least so I have noticed watching people basking in the sun on the beaches during the summer. The ladies do not always shave their arm-pits, nor their bikini-areas. Guess this is a country full of wax-virgins. And deo-devils in one way or another, deodorant or no deodorant…

Saturday, 16 September 2006

Spend more than you can afford

Money, money, money must be funny, in the rich man’s world.
And if you’re not rich, you can borrow some money instantly and spend more than you can afford to!

First, get yourself some credit-cards and charge them full. Then move over to instant-mobile-phone-loans, just a phone-call away instantly into your account, when sitting in a bar and having used all your money and wanting to buy more drinks around.

Even better, take the instant loans in your parents’ names, their friends’ names, or your own friends’ names! You just have to have access to the right mobile-phone and know their social security-numbers and the finance-company deposits the money into your bank-account, instantly. This might sound like a nightmare but is actually happening everyday to some relatives and friends of the teenagers and young adults in this country.

Borrowing mummy’s, daddy’s or friends’ phones without them knowing and getting the money yourself with the loans to pay in their names.

Money, money, money, must be funny, until you get caught!

Money has become so over important in our society that you do just anything to get the right clothes and accessories. As this is not strictly speaking “stealing”, as robbing a bank might be, it probably feels much more easier to do. No pointing of guns at people.

To spend more now with too lightly granted credits, when you still have no job and have to get through your studies with high-rate mortgages and loans to pay? Not to mention getting married, buying a house, supporting a family and paying for their care and needs in the future…

Money makes the world go round, at least for the finance companies.

For the rest of us they can cause misery for years and years to come. Maybe we should just hope for a worldwide complete computer break-down so I can debit my credit-cards to my daddy’s account once again!

Thursday, 7 September 2006

Bringing up children conveniently

In the 60’s mummy was a housewife, in the 70’s it was “key-children” as neither of the parents were home, in the 80's some daddies were housewives and today “distant-up-bringing” of children is the issue.

Parents are now tracking their off-springs’ activities by their mobile-phones and the Internet. For toddlers and younger children you can log into the Homepage of your children’s kindergarten and see what they have been up to during the day. There you are presented with the photos the kindergarten-personnel have taken of their daily activities. Uploaded and updated on the Net several times a day.

And this is also so handy for all kinds of perverts!

Elder children you track down with a GPS-device, to know their exact whereabouts. You ring them once in a while to know everything is okay, tell them what to do and to ask them if they have done their home-work and heated up their TV-dinner in the microwave-oven. Not to mention the excellent use of Nanny-cams, then you really have control of what the kids were up to the when you were not at home. Well, at least you know what they did during your absence.

How is this for convenient for mummy and daddy? Now you don’t even have to afford to have a nanny or an au-pair to take care of your children, just check how they are doing on the Net, get home check the tapes taken by the Nanny-cam and tell the kids to brush their teeth and to go to bed! Nothing to worry about.

And all this to one day surprisingly to discover, that your child has got a driving license and borrowed your brand new BMW without your permission, crashing it under the influence of alcohol...

Thanking God nobody was killed!

Thursday, 31 August 2006

An apple a day

Every autumn a thing occurs in my home that I am not at all pleased about. No matter how I clean or what else I do, every autumn at about this time of year we always have to cohabit with these flies from Hell. Ordinary people might call these tiny little flies “fruit-flies” or “banana-flies” but I just hate them and call them “flies from Hell”!

Even if there is no fruit anywhere in the house and all fruit is safely kept away in the fridge at this time of the year and we still get the flies. Little tincy-wincy orangy-brown ones, lots of them and all over the place!
When my daughter was a pre-school she did not like to eat fruit. Fruit is good for you so I made her have some anyway. So she hid the fruit in between the extensions of the dining-room table. That year was the worst invasion ever of flies from Hell!

I cleaned out everywhere the flies could originate from, removed anything they could digest on, no unwashed glasses with orange-juice were left in the sink, no sugar out, nothing. And still the flies were there, they just thrived and multiplied themselves. I was just going completely bonkers with this puzzle of hell-flies!

Until one day when I was polishing the dining-room table and saw where all the flies were coming from. They came out from down beneath the extension-boards! And there were lots mushy old pieces of peaches too. God, it was awful! There were millions and millions of the flies! Well, the table was carefully washed with disinfected, the house thoroughly sprayed with pesticide and you might guess that my daughter was told off pretty well about hiding the fruit…My daughter nowadays enjoys her fruit.
She eats an apple a day to keep the flies from Hell away!

Sunday, 27 August 2006

Carelia finally joined together with Finland again!

Ever since the World War II when the Finns lost a huge part of their lands called Carelia to the Russians, or Russia then being the Soviet Union, there has been discussions about getting it back and joined with Finland. There are many associations that run the problematic issue of getting the lost part of Carelia and the biggest town Wyborg back. Now there finally is a solution to the problem!

Finally, after all these years the Russians are returning some of the parts of Carelia to Finland.

You see, no matter where you are you in the southern parts of Finland, and especially near the eastern border, you get to breathe some smog, as the air is filled with the smoke from the wild forest fires burning in the east on the other side of the Russian border. That is in Carelia.

So, finally the Finns are getting some of their lands back, even though if it is only to be inhaled in very small, tiny particles flying in the air.

Thursday, 24 August 2006

Sibelius is champagne

Sibelius is the most famous Finnish composer. Did you know that? And now it is also Champagne.

It is actually French made champagne but the brand name is Sibelius. It is a trademark owned by the heirs of the Sibelius family here in Finland.

I do enjoy classical music but have always found the music of the composer hard to listen to in its’ pomposity. Maybe I am too old-fashioned in my taste and his compositions are too modern for me. Or maybe my mind is too simple to understand true art? But Sibelius’ music together with some strawberries and champagne, well, it might enhance the experience. That I might even enjoy!

Monday, 14 August 2006

Smog in Finland!

The forest fires are really growing into a major health issue here in Finland.

The nearest forest fires are on the other side of the Russian border (there might be other I am not aware of) and the smoke still drifts hundreds of kilometres inland! The weather being hot you would like to leave the windows ajar but can’t because of the smell of a smoke! And you can’t see anything because of the smog. Imagine smog here in Finland in the middle of Helsinki or on a lake in the middle of nowhere! Looks like rain on the horizon but smells like fire.

Being out in the woods and having a little fire, well, that is nice and cosy and even smells nice. But having the smoke around you at all times is not fun anymore. Guess we all live in a smoke-sauna for the time being.

At least they promised a possibility of rain this week and I really hope that goes for the eastern border too!

Friday, 11 August 2006

Hottest summer ever?


The weather has been extremely hot lately here in Finland. Every day on the they say the summer has been drier than ever adding the time up for three decades, 37 years, 40 years and now soon a drier summer than ever since they have kept records of it. Some areas even have restrictions on usage of water and forest fires have been a pestilence this year with smoke drifting around in the air. So this year’s bar season has been a huge success! Everybody has been sitting sipping on a nice cool drink on some outdoor terrace as often as possible…

Finally there now is promise of some rain after this coming weekend.
So maybe this is the end of the summer season?

Monday, 7 August 2006

We must do lunch one day!

Isn’t that the most convenient and nice little phrase to say just being polite and without meaning it.
“We must do lunch”, or “Call me next week”!

But just saying that without meaning it can cause you problems here in Finland. People here take your word for more seriously than just politeness. Saying a courteous non-committal “we must do lunch” the Finns really respect that you have made a promise to have lunch and they expect you to have the lunch with them!

So keep in mind what you say and how you say it, and also be in time for your lunches.

Saturday, 29 July 2006

Is this the land of World championships?

This hot summer has been filled with various peculiar events, competitions and World championships. How about World championship in wife-carrying or mobile-phone-throwing? And sauna-bathing ? People come from all around the world to participate in these competitions.

But the World championship in Marsh-football was not a great success this year.. because of the dry summer. The marsh was too dry and reminded more of an ordinary football-field and the fun went missing. Imagine grown up people running around in a swampy marsh after a ball. Like an English football field in the middle of winter, just the rain and sleet missing.

Well, at least the Finns know how to have fun and are proud enough to advertise about it world widely.

Thursday, 20 July 2006

There is a X-spot

We have all heard about the G-spot, but have you ever heard about the X-spot ?

Well, I had not heard about it and not even thought there was one, but I have seen it and I have proof, I took a picture of it passing it, the X-spot, the other day.

Yes, there really is an X-spot and it is not on our bodies. It is a place, or a certain location, here in Finland and I have a photo to prove it. Maybe you can find out where it is? As I am not going to tell you where it is.

Let me know if you find it!

Tuesday, 11 July 2006

Avian-flu?!?

What a big scare the media played upon us this spring about the avian-flu. They were telling us about when the migrating birds would be returning to Finland, then we might all get sick and people stocked up on flu-remedies just in case.

And now we are in summer and nothing has really happened. Just some dead swans found here and there around Europe in the early spring, some poultry killed cause of some symptoms of the flu in France and Zoos killing their winged residents for no reason at all. All duck ponds are quite still this summer, no birds to feed. But no cases appeared in humans and no pandemic broke out as we were foretold.

Well, will have to see what the media comes up with next year to scare the public. A couple of years ago it was SARS. Sad really that the media is so prone to report about everything that is wrong and bad in the world. Reading the newspapers and seeing the news on the TV is so depressing!

I think I will curl up in my bed, make myself a nice hot cup of tea and read a nice novel.

Monday, 26 June 2006

Poor Midsummer poetry

The Midsummer was celebrated during this weekend.
Most businesses like banks, shops and restaurants closed for the weekend by mid-Friday, and even the public transports were standing still until Midsummer Day’s afternoon when they traffic like it is Sunday. No shops are open until Sunday after the holidays. Many tourists wondered about the phenomenon visiting
Helsinki during the weekend as most Finns had deserted the capital.

So what do the Finns do for their Midsummer celebration then?

No matter if you go to camping, boating or to your lodge, you just have to vanished somewhere out of town, outdoors into the great wilderness to enjoy the summer’s biggest festivity. At least the weather Gods were favourable and for first time in years the Midsummer festivities were celebrated in a warm, sunny weather in most parts of Finland.

Well, of course good food and drink are always a must, beer, pickled herring, fresh potatoes, barbequeing, fresh strawberries and then you are ready for some more serious celebrations.

The Midsummer bonfire. An old pagan custom that has survived into the modern day-living here in Finland.

The Midsummer bonfire is traditionally lit in the evening, preferably near the lakeside, in the never setting sunset to celebrate the season of light and also fertility. Midsummer night is also the night for the youngsters to pick seven flowers to keep under their pillows to dream about their future spouse…Whether this really works I do not know.

But in many places dances are also kept in the vicinity of the bonfires so you can enjoy the festivities even more to your own suiting, either join the dancers or just watch them go…collect your own flowers and sweet dreams.
Anyway, remarkably many babies are born in the month of March.

“A young maiden dancing with flowers in her hair,
with the handsome and rich young heir,
a Midsummer bonfire lit in the near,
March a new-born child will bear…”

I was never any good at writing poetry anyway...

Wednesday, 14 June 2006

The heat is on!

The celebrations of the annual graduations and schools finishing their work for the summer took place in hardly summery weather in beginning of June, and now the happy youngsters are granted sunny and hot weather up to round 30 degrees C. The Government are planning to establish a special office for warning of exceptionally hot weather. I wonder what good that will do?!?

I mean talking about heat-wave warnings, maybe a good idea but what good will it do in this country, where they hold the hottest world-championship competition in the world?!?

Can you already guess what I am talking about here?
Of course not.

Imagine, sauna, hot-hot-hot. Summer heat-wave hot-hot-hot.
And then you combine them together and there you go!

The World championships in sauna-bathing!

There actually is an annual World championship competition in sauna-bathing. It takes place here in Finland, of course, and takes place in the summer, of course. This year they are holding the 8th world-championships in beginning of august. I mean, this is taking things to the extremes again, sitting as long as possible in a very hot sauna in the summer…people are completely steaming hot and red when they come out!

Okay, here’s the funny part, it is actually not as stupid as it sounds, well maybe sitting for hours in the sauna to see who sits longest and stands most heat is, but having a steaming hot sauna-bath when it is hot is not such a stupid idea after all. I mean, you are in hotter air in the sauna than outside, so you feel like it is cooler when coming out of the sauna because of the heat you were in!
Same thing as having hot drinks in the sun actually makes you feel cooler, instead of drinking something icy cold and feeling even more hot and awkward afterwards.

So hey, the heat is on. We go sauna-bathing…You should try it too!

Friday, 2 June 2006

Finnish Parliament Centennial celebrations

The Finnish Parliament celebrated its’ centennial yesterday. Finland was the first country in the world to give both women and men equal right to vote for their representatives to the Parliament a hundred years ago. Yesterday the television was full of broadcasts of the celebrations. We were shown the Celebration session from the House of Parliament, the celebrations at the Opera and the festive buffet afterwards.

In the very first Finnish Parliament there were 19 women, how is that for equality between the sexes?!?

There is a female President in Finland, and she was re-elected in the last Presidential elections, and there are now 76 women in the Parliament.

And quite a progressive Parliament one century ago it indeed was, taken in concern that Finland by then was governed as an autonome part of the Russian Empire, to declare its’ independence at the time of the Russian Revolution in December 1917. Before that Finland was a part of the Swedish Kingdom for several hundreds of years until the war against Russia in 1809.

Now with almost a century of independence, I think the freedom has taken a few steps back since the Sufragettes straining for the right to vote with joining the EU. EU is growing too rapidly and has become too big a machinery to be a quick enough to keep up with the pace of modern life with all legislations and regulations to be carried out. Only good thing I have seen so far is when travelling abroad and not having to change the money into new currencies all the time.

Anyway, great turbulence was yesterday stirred up by one of the female members of Parliament by addressing her speech against the regressive politics in Russia and claiming that the Russian Duma has regressed back to the days of the Emperor. No reaction has yet been seen from the Russians but I expect it will come soon.

And maybe Lordi for President would not be such a bad idea after all?!?

Saturday, 27 May 2006

Lordi on the Tango-market

The European song-contest winner, the heavy monster-rock-band Lordi is going to perform at the annual Tango-market, the Finnish Tango-vocalist contest in Seinäjoki this summer. Imagine all people gathering to hear Tango music and then comes heavy rock band Lordi. Is this the country of controversy or not?!?

Before entering the stage in Helsinki, or Hellsinki, as is the new spelling for the name of the capital on the t-shirts saying "Mr Lordi for President", the band asked for a peaceful participation from the audience when appearing on Market-square on Friday night, not on Senate’s Square as I mentioned before.

The members of the band seem to be quite down to earth, both guys and girl. They had also asked to be able to stay incognito and for the Media to not publish their real names or any photos of them, which Finnish gossip magazine Seiska did anyway. Now there is a petition collecting signatures against the pictures published by the magazine. I think it was quite cool by Lordi doing “Kiss” all over again.

That was magic, the members being able to be their own roadies without anyone knowing how anyone of them looked!

Mr Lordi himself has stated that his Finnish accent is incompatible with his made-up stage look, so he is not allowed to be photographed from the front when interviewed in Finnish. And quite frankly, it would seem a bit odd.

But I join everybody else in saying: “Hard, rock Hallelujah”!

Way to go Finland!
Winning for the first time in 40 years of participation in the European song-contest!

Monday, 22 May 2006

Hard, rock, Hallelujah!

Strange, that a Finnish band should go and win the European song-contest. It has been said that hell freezes over before a Finnish song wins the Eurovision song-contest. So we are now awaiting for hell to freeze over!

But how could Lordi not have won?!?

The BBC was broadcasting their song three times every half-hours the day after the semi-finals on the News as Lordi was sued as Satanists by some Greeks. Any artist would have paid millions to hit the News worldwide as they did, and unintentionally!

And are they really Satanists or is their song satanic?!? They do have another song named “Devil is a looser”, would they be Satanist singing that?!?
“Both angels and demons should join”, and “if you don’t join us, you can go to hell”…

Anyway, it was quite fun to watch the contest, for the first time for years, knowing that the Finnish female narrator had earlier stated that if Lordi makes it to the finals, she would do the speaking in just her bikinis…to the disappointment of all the male spectators she was not shown on TV.

Leaves me to wonder what she had promised to wear, or not to wear, if Lordi won, as she from the beginning was not at all positive about them getting points in the vote and winning. She kept on repeating “Oh, no! They can’t win!” Maybe she promised to wear just her bikinis all year around?!?
And that is not advisable with the weather in this country!

An old lady was interviewed live on radio last week about what she thought about Lordi. Well, her quick answer was: ”He must have done some serious drinking to look like he does!” Today, just two days after their victory, or rather just one day, they are already talking about naming a square after the band, imagine Lordi-square!

Anyway, every time when the Finns have achieved some success in sporting, like ice-hockey or something, the winning team is welcomed on Senator square in the middle of Helsinki with crowds of people gathering to see the heroes returning from the battle-grounds .

And these hard rocking monsters did not win by being half-naked. They were almost the only contestants that were fully clothed !

Thursday, 18 May 2006

Low-fat sausages and light Ciders

The Finns are well informed and educated about health issues by the government so the food industry is making huge efforts to keep in pace with the latest trends in healthy food. For years it has been said that salt is bad for you so everything in the supermarkets are lightly salted. Not to forget to mention about Coke light and sodas with sweetener instead of sugar for keeping the calories down. Or the yoghurts with no added sugar and practically no fat at all!

Also fat has been banned and all the products are now low fat forgetting that there actually is good and bad fats! So people forget to eat salmon and other fish with unsaturated fats and eat low-fat sausages with saturated fat instead.

And talking about that, now that we are entering the high-season of bar-b-ques in the summer. Low-fat sausages for the grill of course, potato-salad also made with low-fat mayonnaise, but here comes the funny part, we do actually have light Ciders here. Yes, real Ciders with alcohol but with added sweetener instead of the sugar to keep the calories at a minimum. Actually they are not as bad as I make them sound, but it’s funny, I think.

The newest trend here and not yet a big hit, has been is the low-carb-diets that are just making their arrival. Some signs are already to see in the supermarkets. So instead of counting calories you leave out the carbohydrates to as little as possible to maintain or reduce your weight. Imagine what horror that is to a hostess to keep track of who is eating what for the moment hosting a dinner party instead of keeping in mind just the old, common food allergies?!? Some of my friends are now eating high protein foods forgetting about fibres and good fats. Is it not strange what influence the Media has on people?!? Anything on the TV or in the Newspapers must be true and you don’t have to think yourself at all.

We just had two weeks of lovely, warm sunny summer weather so the bar-b-ques have been going on steaming hot this time and now we’re back to snow! Well not quite here where I live, and the chances seeing cross-country skiers on the lakes is already gone for this year, maybe if I moved further up North for next year to make this dream of mine come true?!?

Tuesday, 16 May 2006

Hair-colours and suntan

I know that blondes have more fun, and as I got a hair-make over as Mother’s Day gift I thought I’d go blond to have even more fun than I already do.

Well, then they told on the news that it is highly probable to get cancer if you dye your hair often. The same with sun-bathing and tanning-beds, you might get skin cancer and the colouring agent in self-tanning lotions might also cause cancer. Where has all the good fun gone now for all us women with nothing else to do than change our colour in one way or another?

A new book was just published about the good and bad effects of sun. Did you know that the sun is good for you as well as the culprit of many bad things?!? Actually, if you get sun burned as an adult it can prevent from certain forms of cancer but getting burnt as a child you might get melanoma? Or that acne gets better from sun exposure only temporarily just to worsen its symptoms during the winter? And we have always been told it is good for us to be in the sun if acne prone, and also to get sufficient vitamine D.

And at least women know today that vitamine C is good for our skin, in our skincream. So now we have to take our vitamine C both internally and externally.

When will they tell us to not paint our nails because it is good against osteoporosis or something else and take that fun from us as well?

Sunday, 14 May 2006

Self-made gift on Mother’s Day

The TV has lately been busy with giving us tips of what to get for mother on Mother’s Day. Traditionally in Finland you get her some flowers, preferably a self-made card by the kids and a nice gift, that also preferably self-made.

Daddy bakes a cake with the kids and cooks dinner. Imagine how messy the kitchen will be after daddy having cooked there with the off-spring, and if this is the only time in the year daddy does some cooking? Who does the cleaning but mommy?!? So I guess this is the most common gift to mother on Mother’s Day.

And what if mommy really likes her cooking and would prefer to do it herself like I do?

Another tip has been to not buy mother buy her something glamorous and romantic like lingerie or a necklace. Something “useless” and pretty and not any kitchen utensils or appliances. What if she wants a new toaster or a blender? Or the espresso-machine just broke down? Or she needs a new tea-pot like I do?!?

Why not really listen to what mother herself wants to do and have? You should know that much of your mother, and wife, at least. Flowers yes, or perfume perhaps is nice, but is she allergic?!? Chocolates, but is she on a diet?!?

Just be yourself and skip overdoing it on Mother’s Day. Ask mum what she wants!