Saturday, 11 December 2010

wintertime inventiveness

Finns can be quite inventive and engineering skilled people. Take my friend Markus, he is an engineer and somone who enjoys winter sports. Combine the two with excess time to think about things with a few spare parts hanging around and you get stuff like this:


a 2 stroke powered snow board.


its a piece of genius isn't it?


Thursday, 26 August 2010

confidence in the police

Having a police force which has the confidence of the public is an essential thing. Finland seems to enjoy such a situation.

The situation is quite the reverse in Australia where any number of royal commissions into the corruption and behavior of the Police is something which would seem more in place in under developed countries. Even after some century of cleanups the situation still requires attention. The latest step in this direction in Queensland>may make a difference ... but I wouldn't be counting on it restoring much of the public confidence in the Police here.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

no longer an ex-pat

Well now this blog will have to take a turn for a while; a turn towards commentary from outside and reflection on what I saw. I'm now no longer in Finland and instead enjoying sunny days, nights with skies filled with stars, mountains and oceans.


Tuesday, 9 March 2010


The classic countryside house seems to be the rintamamiestalo ... though its normally quite the boring cube.

however some Finns get creative with theirs. This owner has added a veranda to transform it into something which is almost European at first glance

Finnish Countryside home

cunning and creative

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

communication style II

Viivi and Wagner is a classic Finnish cartoon strip (at least here in Finland). I recently was given this one by my wife (who knows how I feel about the way the stereotypical Finn communicates).

I loved it, so I've added a translation to the scene so you can get the point better :-)

Keeping in mind that dumb originally means "unable to speak" ... Ahhh ... I love Wagner

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Kouvola gets snow

Well in a strange quirk of nature Kouvola (where I live) has more snow than any other part of Finland.

This is pretty unusual, and as far as I can tell this is the first time in recorded weather history.

Normally there is more snow in Lapland or on the Eastern Border near Ilomantsi.

Either way I'm not complaining (although the people who do the snow clearing sure are) as the local forest around my home is filled with winter wonderland scenery like this poor little Spurce saping which is totally smothered in snow.

My ski track is in better condition that it ever has been

and the whole place looks great


Saturday, 20 February 2010

drunks: its a lifestyle not an abberation

I was just getting out of my car in our residence carpark yesterday when a fellow who was walking in my direction as I pulled up walked up to me as I got out of the car and spoke something to me.

I only recognised "keskusta" and said "I'm sorry mate, I don't speak Finnish well yet".

He double takked and said in English back to me "Oh, don't worry, neither can I"

Turns out he'd been drinking (as if that wasn't clear from the smell) and wanted to get into the center to get some more booze (it was after lunch by now). So he asked me "can you please drive me into town, its cold and I don't have any gloves or a pipo" (which he didn't). I could understand the problem as being -18°C with a breeze too, his ears must have been cold.

I thought about it and thought "what the hell" and said I'd take him. No point in having him hospitalized for exposure too ... his coat wasn't real warm looking.

When we got there he went to shake my hand and so I reached over to shake his hand but then:

he turned my hand over and kissed the back of my hand while saying how wonderful and kind I was....



what do you say about this?

I thanked him and said it wasn't really necessary, and as he got out of the car he reached into his coat and pulled out his last can of beer, asking me "would I like to take a drink"

as we were holding up traffic I said "no thanks" and off I went.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

The home of Santa

For reasons best known to the Coca Cola company a false myth has been propagated that Santa comes from the north pole. Anyone from these polar regions knows this to be completely laughable as there would be nothing for the Reindeer to eat for starters.

Fortunately people like me who live here and think to write blogs in English language can help those south of the arctic circle to know where Santa really comes from

Rare Exports Inc. from Woodpecker Film on Vimeo.

and part two, the safety instructions.

and thanks JP for bringing this rare knowledge to me :-)

Saturday, 13 February 2010

a language lesson

being fluent in Finnish is important, sometimes its well to take lessons from those who know best.

even if you don't speak much Finnish this is worth a listen

Monday, 8 February 2010

winter parking

Some of the people in my carpark don't seem to use their cars much in winter....


this guy seems to never move his van at all ...


so its sort of a static work of art...


during winter, its sort of a semi-permanent snow record ...



Tuesday, 2 February 2010


I had the opportunity to visit Tampere again yesterday, I was there some time ago and the weather was foul so since time was restricted I spent my time photographing the interior of the Cathedral there.


The rest of Tampere is just as interesting as the Cathedral.

One of the quite interesting facets of Tampere is that it grew as an industrial city based (probably) around the power source provided by the rapids which flow in that area.

Unlike perhaps some cities Tampere has not relegated its industrial heart to the outside of town (out of sight and out of mind) but it has formed this more or less in the center of town.

The shopping malls and town square are in the midst of this.

But, don't be fooled into thinking that Tampere is some dirty industrial town, as that is just not right. It in fact showcases (to my mind) exactly what the benefits are of "clean energy". Because you see the while you've probably come to interpret images like this as showing pollution, because energy source is essentially Hydro power ...

its just as any other building. To me this is how our technology should be, not something we want to push aside because its filthy, but something which really is the center of our lives. Good old fashioned kinetic energy. Water drops a long way and the weight (or in some cases the speed) generates energy.

just upstream from this levy wall is a dam, which is a feature of the town.

The town square is also a nice place with some heritage buildings.

its a really lovely city and well worth your looking at if you have the chance ... personally I think it has way more character than Helsinki

Monday, 1 February 2010

Finnish Humor

I hope this cartoonist doesn't mind me translating his works

but it was too bloody funny to leave it to such a small audience

Lovely little Birds

I love the little birds here in Winter ...

When I visit my grandmother-in-law I get to hang around outside and take some photo's. Here is some from the same tree on different days ...


and Hömötintti


I just don't know how they make it in the less than -20°C temperatures.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

ski track ettiquette

I would like to begin this by saying stop walking your dogs on the bloody ski track!

Finns apparently have two rules of ettiquette:

1) Don't fart in the Sauna
2) Don't walk on the Ski tracks

Seems like sound social rules to me. I mean really who wants wants to be in a hot small room full of steam with a rank fart in the air.

If you go skiing (like classic or skating style) then you'll know that tracks make a big difference to doing it smoothly without tripping up. When you're training as a sport it can be annoying to trip up because of a deep foot print in the track. So of all people Finns should know better than anyone that you should not walk your bloody dog on the bloody ski track.

You may have guessed that this topic drives me insane.

The worst part is that it is plainly and unambiguously a violation of laws. To make matters worse the National TV station here (YLE) tried to present a program about it and in the interests of political correctness ended up making a case that it was some how ok.

Well congratulations YLE, you just helped their cause.

What really drives me nuts is that these responsible and caring citizens also allow their dogs to shit on the tracks and just leave it there.

On the foot path its just unsightly, but on the Ski track ...

Its stunning to me that people even let their dog do a shit right in the middle of the bloody track! I mean what normal dog shits in the middle of a path?

Then they leave it there ...

When I was in Canada the people in the towns of Alberta were much more ethical in this way and many picked up their dogs shit in small plastic bags. They even had dog shit bins at the dog walking track entrances.

Now this isn't so unique, these same dog owners usually never pick up their dog shit anywhere any time and make no effort to pick it up.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't want to create the impression that no Finn picks up their dog shit, but it sure does seem to be a minority looking around.

But seriously, little is more annoying than getting dog shit on your skis when its just around zero deg C.

Friday, 8 January 2010


One of the things which struck me when I first came to Finland was just how many people spit. They spit in town, they spit on the busses, they spit everywhere. It was nearly as bad as China (which seems bent on changing this).

I was particularly reminded of this upon returning to Finland from 10 days in southern Europe where I didn't see anyone spit. But its not just young lads, you walk around any place here and you'll see boys and girls lean over and spag on the ground.

Given the current fascination with averting Pig Flu here in Finland I'm surprised that noone public has yet mentioned this point.

Its a filthy and disgusting habit, totally unnecessary and helps spread disease.

stop it ... please!