Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Better crop but less?

This year's cereal crop in Finland is better than the average.

At least that is what the headline of the news. According to what I read, 2009 is the third year in a row that the crop is bigger than normal according to the preliminary statistics from the Information Centre of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Finland.

Especially the wheat and barley crop were well above the average, but instead the rye and oat crops were below the average. So maybe the crop is better, but still is less than normal as well?

Anyway, the Finns consume 100 million tons of rye per year and most of the rye consumed as rye bread, as rye bread has been a necessary part of the Finnish diet for centuries and as the rye crop was as much as 31 percent less compared to last year and Finland will have to import rye in order to meet demands.

It seems to me, at least looking at the published statistics, that there is not enough rye growers is this country and instead of growing something else that is subsidized with funds from the EU, it would be better to grow more rye.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Sunday shopping

Now we have entered into the winter season's Sunday shopping, the shops are allowed to be open for business also on Sundays.

This year with the novelty that yesterday the parliament finally granted for the Sunday openings to be continuous from the New year on. Before the decision was taken a lot was discussed about the prices going up as the wages for the employees will rise, as Sundays are more expensive for the employer to use their staff.

I can only see a lot of advantages with the Sunday opening. Families are better able to plan their shopping and even make a day out of it, less produce for the supermarkets to waste as the shops are open every day, you can better plan the transports and probably don't need as much shelve space, and if we are lucky the food prices may decrease even more than they have done since the VAT on food was decreased some time ago.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Biggest in palm oil?

Sometimes the strain to go greener just gets plain ridiculous.

Changing from green house gas producing energy sources to more green and renewable energy source alternatives seems to be just moving the global problem from one country to another as big corporations always just are big corporations and that even in the Finland.

The major Finnish oil company plans to open two new bio-diesel refineries abroad and is also currently negotiating in several countries on palm oil and might soon become the world's biggest buyer of palm oil. This according to one of the major newspapers here in Finland.

Okay, palm oil for sure is a renewable source of energy so where lies the problem?

It is better to use bio diesel yes, but this bio diesel in question is made of palm oil, palms that more often than you would like to know about, is grown on land that used to be rain forests. Rain forests are felled for the palms to grow with the obliteration of the forests making about a fifth of the green house emissions.

Is this what they call globalization, shuffling the problem around?

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Shot or no shot?

Okay, so now it has happened, my first appointment that was cancelled because of the Pig flu.

The person in question will be getting back to me next week when feeling better. And if not feeling better by next week, then who am I to turn to?!?

I wonder if this Pig flu really is as dangerous as the media wants to make us believe. A pandemic it is that is for sure and some have died of it, but then some people die of the normal seasonal flu as well and any flu medication is a high seller at present, among tissue paper and anti-bacterial washes.

The major discussion topic among people here in Finland now seems to be whether to or not to, take the flu shot, that is. And there are pro's and con's in both choices.

Getting the vaccination, well there are side effects and the queueing, as people have waited in line for hours for their shots. By the way, how are you to know when it is your time? Does anyone tell you when to go? Still it takes about two weeks for the antibodies to form and you getting a resistance for it, maybe, for the flu in question as this is a viral flu, and as you might have heard viruses do constantly mutate. So in a worst case scenario there might be no point in taking the shot, as it has already changed and does not work against the new strand of the flu.

Okay, what about not getting the shot then? Well, I guess keep it your own secret, you better not tell anyone about not having it to avoid getting ostracized.

Anyway, a quite big school in the vicinity of the capital had their flu shots, and this against the general guidelines of the flu vaccinations from the health department. As there are guidelines on who is to get vaccinated first, elder people, young children etc. One can wonder if there maybe might have been some children to some prominent politician, or maybe even in plural as in politicians, attending to that very school...

Monday, 9 November 2009

Who's in charge?

I have been quite satisfied with the Finnish health care system, especially the use of family doctors.

Instead of seeing someone else every time you go to see a doctor, like when I first moved here, you today get to see the same one who already knows you, and about you, and you don't have to "tell everything from the beginning all over" about yourself. And there is of course the language question, being a foreigner, I am very comfortable with my "old" doctor.

So, when moving, if you do not choose your new address well, you have either change doctors or take charge of your affairs, which is not easy I tell you, and me having moved again of course imposed new stress to the system, but as I am now quite well schooled in paper pushing Finnish style I got to keep my old family doctor, which was a major achievement I tell you. If anything, it takes faith to stick to your guns.

When trying to get something done in Finland, bureaucratically I mean and this seems to apply to everything, the hardest thing normally is to find the person who is in charge. And according to my experience so far, this applies to most of municipal and governemental authorities. Everybody you talk to, you have to explain the whole thing, and then they just pass you along to someone else and you have to go through the whole story once again. Seems like the whole idea is to wear people off.

Doing these inquiries by phone seems to be the most reliable way to go on about it, as turning up in person, the person you want to talk to might not be available at the time present, and you will definitively have to return later. Letters take ages too long to get answered, sometimes even months if you are lucky enough to get an answer in the first place, and e-mail inquiries are not always even answered "as safety precaution", anyway, that is the reason you never get an answer by e-mail. There is actually an "accustomed time to answer" according to Finnish law, but I have yet not been able to establish the exact durance of it.

So, you have to get past your language problem, and it is much easier to get by in broken Finnish or even bad English instead of trying the "second national language". Take it from me, I have tried, and it is a great disadvantage, you just get passed around from phone to phone as nobody wants to talk to you until you get tired and hang up.

So first, various inquiries to the authority in question are needed to find out who to turn to. Then finding out what kind of paper work you might need filled in is a completely different matter. If you're lucky there might be some form you can fill in available on-line and print out.

Now having done all the required questionnaire answering, or letter writing and signing it, you then hand in, or post it, to the authority in question, and wait. The longer you wait the more important the authority seems to be and if you're lucky your request is granted instead of being turned down.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can always appeal against it, and that takes years, or at least so I have heard. Makes you wanna give up to begin with.

Anyway, about a month ago, the President of Finland and the Finnish Prime minister apparently both were surprised to on the news learn about the Finnish UN peacekeepers coming home from Afghanistan.

This incident was in the media called a "lapse in information". The President and the Prime minister had apparently not been properly informed in the matter by the minister of defense, as they were "left out in the cold" and learned the facts the hard way, something unheard of anywhere else but in Finland. Well, in this case the Finnish foreign minister was diplomatic enough to take most of the blame.

But still fact remains, Finland is in a unique situation constitutionally, as the foreign policy is not in just one hands but divided between the responsibility of more than one and maybe some clarifying in who's responsible for what is needed, to know who is in charge.

Or else the right hand does not seem to know what the left hand is on about and we're in for a real hot stirred up soup, sooner or later.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Beware of removing tattoos

Body art such as tattoos and piercings have become very popular here, and also with it the removal of permanent tattoos has risen. The piercings you just leave without attention and it heals itself, I guess.

Anyway, the easiest way is to remove a tattoo is by laser, which vaporizes, or rather dissolves, the colour of the tattoo in the skin layers. Many beauty salons now offer this service and normally it results in a skin burn wound that heals in time.

But the laser has to be powerful enough, a so called class 4 laser, to get into between the skin layers to be able to make the tattoo disappear. Now the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority of Finland recommends that the removals only is done by either doctors or medical staff under the supervision of a doctor, as removing a tattoo wrongly or on a person with very sensitive skin by unskilled and not properly trained personnel, can cause permanent skin damage.

So I guess I´ll better stick to my henna tattoos also in the future.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Bathroom covered in sludge

I have always hated moving, the packing of things is a bore, the moving the stuff itself hell and the unpacking and sorting things out a stressful anti-climax.

In the new place you never know how things work, as they are supposed to work and also do that most of the time. But here I am now waiting in the cold for the plumber to come around, as the janitor was not able to fix the radiator of the living room.

Boy am I glad it is not many degrees below freezing point outside, yet, but already one plant has taken cold and withered and died. Of course it was the pricey and rare chili plant I was worried about in the first place that croaked.

If that was not enough, the shower is also scolding hot as the stopper of the heater is dysfunctional, so I almost burned myself with it yesterday, and washing for the first time in the new apartment turned out hell, as the plumbing was not working properly, the pipes being full of itself, and the water ran from the sink down into the litter box, flooding the whole bathroom floor with a grey sludge of cat litter mixed in water with washing powder in it.

As if I did not have other things to do, like having a stiff Dry Martini dreaming about having my own butler unpacking my stuff, instead these incredible little accidents occur to me, and never to anyone else but me.

At least no one ever tells me they happen.