Monday, 24 November 2008

Ready at hand

The weekend has been filled with snow relentlessly falling off the sky in all directions, and fortunately we have not had any power cuts that have occurred around the country.

Winter cold and snow storm has not out any restrain on exiting for the offspring, and very surprising news reached me by accident when having dinner yesterday.

I am aware of the drinking habits of the youth, and I do know the offspring also drinks alcohol. I do not like teenagers getting drunk but I see no way of prohibiting it either, I do not buy it, nor do I allow them to store it at home and they’ll do it anyway with or without our consent, just like we used to in our time. All we can do as a parent is to be there when needed and sometimes it takes nerves to listen to what you are told.

I know I am not told everything but it seems I get to know a far bit more than other parents and lately the stories have not all been very nice. This weekend a friend of the offspring, a first time drinker I am told, had had too much alcohol and passed out.

Fortunately the rest of the company was alert enough to call an ambulance, and with it saving the life of the adolescent.

With a blood alcohol content of 0, 40 % it was touch and go, just and barely, saving his life. And knowing that a blood alcohol content rating of 0, 20% means serious intoxication, and that 0, 35-0, 40% means potentially fatal alcohol poisoning; it scares the hell out of me thinking this was a first time out, drinking alcohol.

This incident seems a bit sad, maybe it is the exception of the rule that every rule needs to have to be confirmed, as a recently done research done by the University of Kuopio suggests that Finnish alcohol consumption appears is levelling off.

The research is based on 40 years of statistics and the consumption is compared to other countries, and as alcohol consumption in Finland has doubled in a decade, with the average consumption over ten litres per year and person, the Finns tendency for over consumption has been lowered by the more moderate use of alcohol use among adolescents. Adolescents are considered to either totally abstain from alcohol or to be more be moderate drinkers, much like their European peers in comparison to elder people who more tend to turn to drink as comfort when dealing with the turns of life.

So, there is nothing we can do about our offspring drinking alcohol but to talk about it at home, instead of trying to ignore the whole thing as I have discovered most parents tend to do. Adolescents do drink, and most of the times they are okay, but in case of an emergency, even if you hate thinking about it, we have to give them the confidence and make them feel secure enough, to take the needed action, call for help.

At least one thing is good about mobile phones and teenagers using them all the time, which I always earlier used to find most annoying.

They are always ready at hand in case of an emergency!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Unwanted houseguests

After last week’s food poisoning by the Cryptosporidium infection in Helsinki, I came to think about other pests that occur more often than they used to earlier.

Head lice, cockroaches and other insects are more common now in Finland, than they were earlier. Their decline has been said to have been because of better personal hygiene as well as to the more frequent house cleaning chemicals and better routines, until a couple of decades ago. Since then, with the busier lifestyle people tend to clean their homes less often and the more frequent travelling to far away countries has most certainly had a negative effect on the occurrence of head lice and cockroaches. Or should I here be saying "a positive" effect?

Here I am finally trying to get to my point of today, why then is it most often people who lead an alternative way of life, such as more "back to nature" with saving the environment, leading a "greener" life and alternative views opposed to the consumption society more often get the pests?

Like for instance, an acquaintance of ours called me to happily and told me she had head lice. Well, I guess that would not have been my reason to call anybody, only the ones that could have been infected if I had had any, but she just told me her news like it was something everybody was yearning to have!

To the story I must add that she then worked in a Steiner school, a philosophy that is more in tune with Mother Nature, and maybe they either are less prone keeping up a good hygiene or their soaps, shampoos and washing detergents are too environmentally friendly to kill such house guests.

Houseguests I would hate to get, and even when just thinking about it, it makes my scalp itch! Even now, years later.

And to tell you the truth, it was no joyride, as about at the same time this acquaintance of ours rang me, we had had a friend of the offspring’s on a sleep-over with her own accompanying guests in hair. She was decent enough to ring me about it when she afterwards discovered she had lice. So off to the pharmacists I went. No fun there, just serious business with the lady pharmacist sneering at me when I asked for and bought waste amounts of lice shampoo, enough for two rounds, as a prophylactic. Just in case, for the whole family to kill even the tiniest hint of chance of getting an infection.

All bed linen, covers and pillows hats, scarves and winter coats had to be washed and detoxified as a precaution and I was absolutely knackered after all the cleaning and washing. And thought never again!

And here we go again, it really bugs about this incident, the same girl with lice infection in her hair visited us a couple of weeks later, and as it was winter time and all use hats, scarves and winter coats, well I had to go over all our winter clothes that had been hanging in the hallway, once again. Very nice she rang me again and told, but why could she not have told us beforehand, as she apparently knew before, so I could have made the proper precautions?

At least my detergents and shampoos were up to the job, no head lice turned up in any inspections combing any hair in this household, so far.

So, keeping fingers crossed.

And pepper, pepper touch wood.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Food poisoning in cafeteria

65 people have caught micro-organism called Cryptosporidium that causes gastro-intestinal illness and 4 have been admitted to hospital because of dehydration.

The infection was as traced to the public works cafeteria in Helsinki that closed on Friday after the health officials learned about it, but the source of the outbreak is still to be determined to avoid it from spreading further in the country, as imported food is suspected to be the culprit.

This is the first of its’ kind in Finland so far, even though they are relatively common around the world. The symptoms of the infection begin to appear one week after you’ve become infected. The symptoms of the infection are diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea and fever and can last from two weeks but can remain for up to five weeks. The treatment is symptomatic with fluid rehydration, electrolyte correction and relieving pain. Cryptosporidiosis is an acute short-term infection and in healthy adults the illness usually passes on its own but can become severe in children and persons with immune deficits.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Educational bus trip

When visiting my physiotherapist I always go by local bus, which sometimes just is boring as the scenery always is the same but at other times hilariously amusing, like yesterday when two apparently quite recently retired men were talking about things in the seats behind. They were commenting on things the bus passed by, actually in very loud voices as on of them had had some refreshments on the way and the most amusing part was, when they got to one of their favourite pastimes, fishing.

Well, I seem to be going on about fishing quite a lot, even though I am not a keen fisher. I enjoy my odd fishing trips on and off occasionally, but these men were really enthusiastic about it, telling each other how what fish was best cooked and as it happens I got a few valuable tips and hints on how to prepare fish. So, if not as an environmentally good gesture, going by bus I mean, it can sometimes be very entertaining, if not even educational listen to what people are talking about.

Anyway, I was quite disappointed at this year’s two varieties of the Beaujolais Nouveau when tasting them yesterday. They were quite similar to the ones last year, not very easy to differ from each other and not quite up to my taste.

More flat in the spritz and less fruity as they used to be. This sure is one thing that used to be better before, I used to enjoy the arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau very much, and it used to be a thing to look forward to in joyful expectation that has turned into an anti-climax. As the Finnish Alcohol monopoly Alko only imports two varieties of the wine, I can not determine whether this is an overall trend in the Beaujolais Nouveau, or if it only is the person in charge of the acquisition of these wines in question that prefers this kind of Beaujolais.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Best European minister of finances

According to the Financial Times, Finland is a rarity among the European economies with its’ stable economy among the global finance crisis.

In a comparison of European Finance ministers done for the third time made by the newspaper, the Finnish minister of finances was considered the best regarding the expected outcome of the expected Finnish national economical growth for next year, considering the stability of the Finnish market and his personal political abilites.

This is good news for Finland, regarding the series of measures the government has agreed upon to revive the Finnish economy despite that the unemployment rising and with a lower expected tax-income for the state budget.
Guess that must be one of the reasons the alcohol tax will rise with 10% by beginning of next year, together with the aspect its’ impact on the national health.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Tax increase delayed

Earlier this week the Finnish Prime minister met the Russian Prime minister in Moscow in person for mutual talks.

Among other things discussed the increasing of the export tax of Russian timber came up. The taxation of exported timber from Russia was to rise many times from the already present increased tax from Finnish point of view was expected to rise again by the end of the year and now the tax increase was promised to be delayed by 9 months or possibly up to one year.

Sadly enough, this seems to come too late for salvation of the declining Finnish forest industry, as it lately has been troubled with many lay-offs and shutting down mills and factories, as a result of the general decline of demand of paper on the world market.

Anyway, just being back from a visit to my physiotherapist yesterday, I realized that these visits are the closest one can get to another person without having sex with the person in question. And being a heterosexual and the physiotherapist being a male, made it even more obvious to me. Not that he was coming on to me, or ever has, or that I have either but just the thought, was oddly funny.

As going somewhere and paying for them to cause you pain, well, it sounds very much like a session of S/M to me, than improving your well-being as it in reality is.

Still, after the two-three days you actually feel worse and have more pain than before the visit, you feel like a person re-born, without the pain and stiffness you had previously.
And this, the result in the end, makes is worth the pain you have to endure in the hands of your physiotherapist.

Friday, 14 November 2008

End of compulsory Swedish?

The studying of Swedish as a compulsory subject in school has long been a highly discussed issue here in Finland.

Some people are pro Swedish being compulsory to study for all children in school but the greater part fo the population seem to be totally against , and now for the first time I have heard of one solution to the dilemma that makes sense, at least to me.

Someone proposed that school children would have to choose between studying Russian or Swedish in school as a second language, as English comes as a compulsory subject as third language in schools later on anyway. This would make sense to me, as Sweden and Russia are the closest neighbours to Finland, and the two countries the Finns have most business with.

The reason for this new proposition, and what makes sense to me is, that you freely choose a language, you are more likely to make more of an effort in learning it, instead of just having to learn it no matter what.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Finnish President gets Nobel Prize

Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari has been awarded the Peace Nobel prize for his diplomatic peace work.

On the same day he is receiving his Nobel Prize in Oslo, on December the 10th, a stamp with his image will be released here in Finland to the value of 0, 80 Euros, which is the same as 80 European cents.

The stamp can be used to post any 1st class letter or postcard to the maximum weight of 50 grams nationally and up to 20 grams internationally for the rest of the world.

This is the second stamp former president Ahtisaari will have his face on a Finnish stamp, as he was earlier pictured for the first time for his 60th birthday in 1997.
No offense, but there are other motives too, for stamps I mean.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Fair roses

More and more so called Fair Trade products have appeared on the market here in Finland with the latest being roses from South America.

In case you don’t know, “Fair trade” is mark you get when the cultivators are paid well, instead of been exploited by the middle men and the distributors making the profit.

As the Finnish rose farmers are concerned about these Fair trade roses, I can only assume that the South American roses are much more affordable than the Finnish ones grown in green houses.

Here we now come to my question, is it better to grow roses in greenhouses here in Finland, or having the flown in from abroad?

I can still get the idea of wanting to eat oranges, bananas and pineapple, or to drink coffee, but roses, that, that goes way over my comprehension. Don’t get me wrong, I like roses, very much as a matter of fact, but I like to enjoy them I season, preferably outdoors growing in the garden.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Cyber stalking

Gossiping has since the beginning of time been a common pastime amongst us humans.

In ancient times you had to be face to face to gossip but lately this has now got grown into waste dimensions which are harder to emphasize.
How can you defend yourself against malicious rumours and slandering, when it is done anonymously and posted on various places on the internet? What can you do about it, what can the school do when kids are living it? Being bullied in school is one thing, but being cyber stalked and bullied is completely different. You can not escape from it as it is present everywhere, on your phone, your PC, on the Internet.

In the future when applying for jobs, or to study at a good university, you are most certainly googled by them, and if your cyber CV is not up to their requirements and taste, they have plenty of more applicants CV's in the pile to choose from. Now we have to learn how to keep our cyber reputation clean.

We all are entitled to our own, differing opinions, and thank God for that. I'd hate to be exactly the same as the next guy, but if you can not stand for what you say in person, face to face to the person you are talking about, shut the f*ck up! Writings posted "anonymously" are more likely to be untrue, as people do not write the same things when their name is stated below.

Just keep in mind that your IP adresses do show, eventually.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Updating benefits

A committee, called the 100-committee, was founded by the Government to scrutinize the updating the social benefits in Finland.

The social benefits, like unemployment benefits and old-age pensions, are suggested to be guaranteed to a fixed minimum level of income which would automatically be paid to you. This would facilitate the lives of people depending on social benefits quite a lot, as you currently have to first to find out about what benefit you eventually might be entitled to, how to and where apply for it. Then apply for it and maybe get it. Some social benefits that today are handled in the municipalities, would according to the suggestions be handled by KELA, The Finnish Social Insurance Institution as they are already in charge of so many of the existing ones.

Now, this is just a suggestion so far, these changes in benefits, some of them expected to take place by the beginning of next year, but still, the parties of the cabinet are still to agree upon it, as some parties at present are said to be very much opposed to any changes at all in social benefits, just out of their political doctrines, not out of reason, it seems to me.

Still, one of my old question remains, where to take the money from?

The Government has promised to ease the taxation by next year, in order to make the money go around, as the more we consume, the more money it generates and boosts up the economy, well, the state getting less tax money, and paying more in social benefits, also from next year on, that adds up to less than zero, at least in my maths.

Anyway, I am happy to not be into politics and having to worry about it.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

First frost night

Today is the Swedish Day and it is celebrated among the Swedish-Finns in this country.

Swedish Day is actually older than the national day itself, as it was first celebrated in the year 1908.

Anyway, with the ongoing decline of world economy, stock exchanges globally plunging on and off, I find it most annoying to watch the large amount of TV-programs about selling and buying property. Redecorate and make it up slightly, then you will get a better price for it. Fat chance!

Fact is that there is a decline in real estate here in Finland as seems to be globally, at least in the so called western part of the world, and people are less prone to take longterm loans with current mortgages.

Ah, time for a brisk walk. The sun is shining from a clear blue sky, and the air is crisp from the first night frost of the winter.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Globe-trotting Trojan virus

The headlines in media here in Finland this morning, has all been a bout the outcome of the US presidential elections. Everybody politician and celebrity want to have a go at predicting how the newly elected president Obama will be running the country.

Anyway, more interesting is a new globe-trotting Trojan-virus that has so far stolen the info for about 500.000 credit and debit cards. The virus has silently been collecting information for two and a half years and is constantly being updated with new variants. The most serious aspect of this virus is that any computer connecting to the Internet can become infected as it uses a method known as “drive-by downloads” and users can be infected without knowing about it, if visiting a website that has been booby-trapped with the code.

So once again, keep your virus programs and firewalls up and running at all times and have them regularly updated.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Taxs list public

Yesterday last year’s tax results were made public and lists with people the biggest earners in each municipality were published on the Net.

I really wonder what use that is, more than make people envious and want more, or maybe it comes handy when blondes are looking for eligible bachelors. Must be every girl’s dream, having the official tax lists available, when hunting for a new husband.

This year the average tax return is about 600 Euros, and will be paid back on December 4th directly into your bank account, depending on whether you have provided the authorities with your bank account number, or by a postal order by December the 10th. Which will come good in handy for the Xmas shopping.

For those with back taxes, this year the average came to of 1600 Euros, and the sum will have to paid in two payments, one in December and the second on in February next year.