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Finland for Thought » 2009 » March | Politics, current events, culture - In Finland & the United States | Blog of an American living in Finland

Finland for Thought
             Politics, current events, culture - In Finland & United States

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28.3.2009

Blasphemy and Agitation

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 6:55 pm

I don’t know how much the readers follow the Finnish politics and issues, but so far it seems that the old game of “broken telephone” gets even worse when it is transferred from the reality into a newspaper with a political slant, regurgitated, edited and then translated into a foreign language. One of my favorite authors, Mark Twain wrote of this in his short story “Running for Governor” already in 1870, and nothing much has changed since. So you may see headlines of “Finnish politician sued for blasphemy” but I bet the articles are more or less confusing the issues.

There is no confusion that we still retain a paragraph in the Penal Code on “blasphemy”, actually Ch.17 Par. 11: “Breach of the sanctity of religion “(563/1998). Which enables the courts to sentence people on the grounds of “ridiculing what others regard as holy”. Of course in modern times you can laugh at Jesus and God, but can you laugh at Mohammad?

Double standards if you can’t laugh at both equally – and Finland is a land of equality, isn’t it? Then again theres a few other vague subjective laws in the Penal Code that require only that you be accused of them. You don’t have to find a victim for these crimes which makes them perfect to be used in silencing people. There is a law Ch.11 Par8 – “Ethnic agitation” (578/1995) that says “A person who spreads statements or other information among the public where a certain race, a national, ethnic or religious group or a comparable group is threatened, defamed or insulted shall be sentenced for ethnic agitation to a fine or to imprisonment for at most two years.” Which of course is a noble law. Again the question is, are all races, national, ethnic or religious groups or comparable groups equal before the law? For example, can you say that Finns are prone to drunken killing sprees? So if you can say that, can you say that X are prone to robbing passersby and leeching off welfare?

The vocal (or can you say vocal of someone who writes but doesn’t speak much) anti-multiculturalism blogger and aspiring politician Jussi Halla-aho got into the eye of a shitstorm running for the Helsinki city council (he is now among other things supervising the wanking baboons and lethally biting camels in the board of the Korkeasaari Zoo) and now as a result he’s facing court of his blogpost he made in 2006 that questioned the above equality issues. It is quite important to note that the Green Women had no case and no crime to have investigated – not liking someones opinions isn’t enough grounds.

The text “A few baits for Mika Illman” (the state prosecutor) was in fact the *only* one the prosecutor took upon himself to draw charges upon. Can you call that a hook-line-sinker?

On the one hand I find the whole case totally preposterous, as it clearly has a political agenda. Then again “publishing the Mohammad cartoons” issue has been a watershed so the blasphemy part might prove interesting. A part of me though wants Halla-aho to be sentenced for the agitation, so I can sue the ass off anyone claiming Finland is a cold soggy dark place with drunk wifebeaters who have a difficult language.

27.3.2009

It was 200 years ago today

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 10:32 am

It was 200 years ago today
Czar Alexander created a nation to stay
Its been going in and out of style
But guaranteed to raise a smile.
So may I introduce to you
The act you’ve known for all these years,
Porvoo Diet and Grand Duchy of Finland.

WE, ALEXANDER THE FIRST,
by the Grace of God

Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias
etc. etc.

Grand Duke of Finland
etc. etc.

do make known: That, Providence having placed Us in possession of the Grand Duchy of Finland, We have desired hereby to confirm and ratify the Religion and the Fundamental Laws of the Land as well as the privileges and rights which each class in the said Grand Duchy in particular, and all the inhabitants in general, be their position high or low, have hitherto enjoyed according to the Constitution. We promise to maintain all these benefits and laws firm and unshakeable in their full force.

In confirmation whereof WE have signed this Act of Assurance with OUR own hand. Given in Borgå (Porvoo) on the 15/27th* of March 1809.

The original is signed under the Supreme Own Hand.
ALEXANDER.

It’s wonderful to be here,
It’s certainly a thrill.

21.3.2009

Over 112 years ago in Finland and its still the same old shit

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 4:25 pm

Let me introduce the readers to my favorite Victorian Lady; Ethel Bielliana Harley Tweedie, who travelled the world in the turn of the 20th century and made quite a few popular travel books published under the name “Mrs. Alex Tweedie”. Her book published in 1897 “Through Finland in Carts” is that ages answer to Lonely Planet and Berlitz guides. The book is readable online at www.openlibrary.org that is a virtual treasure trove of literature.

But lets get back to Mrs. Tweedie and Finland. She is in a sense a very modern Lady, as it seems its been over 112 years since she was here and foreigners still observe similar things. So I guess its really not worth whining over some things as its been a hundred years and nothings changed. Of course – some things have changed immensely, but some things just do not change.

Like the fact we’re at the arse-end of Europe and nobodys heard of us.

No one ever dreamed of going to Finland apparently. Nevertheless, Finland is not the home of barbarians, as some folk imagine, neither do Polar bears walk continually about the streets, nor reindeer pull sledges in summer

Like we’re a bit silent and obtuse.

Nothing excites a Finn. Although he is very patriotic he cannot lightly rise to laughter or descend to tears ; his unruffled temperament is, perhaps, one of the chief characteristics of his strange nature. ……

They are a grave, serious people, who understand a joke even less than the Scotch, while such a thing as chaff is absolutely unintelligible to them. Life to the Finns seems a very serious matter which can be only undertaken after grave thought and much deliberation. They lose much pleasure by their seriousness. They sing continually, but all their music is sad; they dance sometimes, but the native dances are seldom boisterous as in other lands. They read much and think deeply, for both rich and poor are wonderfully well educated ; but they smile seldom, and look upon jokes and fun as contemptible.

And yeah, FINNS STARE!

But the stolidity of a Finn is always remarkable, and the appearance of strange English- women in somewhat unusual attire appeared really to fascinate the gentleman, who neither moved nor spoke, only simply stared.

Not to mention they ask WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

The peasant asks where you come from the moment he sees you are a stranger, and the better-class folk soon turn the traveller in their midst inside out with questions. They ask not only “Where do you come from ?” but, ” Where are you going ? ” What is your business? “

And the language has always been easy.

The language is intensely difficult to learn, for it has sixteen cases, a fact sufficient to appal the stoutest heart.

And the students wear those funny white caps.

All the students of both sexes wear the most charming cap. In shape it closely resembles a yachting cap ; the top
is made of white velvet, the snout of black leather, and the black velvet band that encircles the head is ornamented in front
by a small gold badge emblematic of the University. No one dare don this cap, or at least not the badge, until he has passed his matriculation examination.

And Finns are ugly, fat and drink a lot.

The Finns, though intellectually most interesting, are not as a rule attractive in person. Generally small of stature, thickset, with high cheek-bones, and eyes inherited from their Tartar-Mongolian ancestors, they cannot be considered good-looking; while the peculiar manner in which the blonde male peasants cut their hair is not becoming to their sunburnt skins, which are generally a brilliant red, especially about the neck where it appears below the light, fluffy, downy locks. Fat men are not uncommon ; and their fatness is too frequently of a kind to make one shudder, for it resembles dropsy, and is, as a rule, the outcome of liqueur drinking, a very pernicious habit, in which many Finlanders indulge to excess. There are men in Suomi—dozens of them—so fat that no healthy Englishman could ever attain to such dimensions ; one of them will completely occupy the seat of an Isvoschtschic, while the amount of adipose tissue round his wrists and cheeks seems absolutely incredible when seen for the first time, and one wonders how any chair or carriage can ever bear such a weight. Inordinately fat men are certainly one of the least pleasing of Finland’s peculiarities.

Not forgetting that Finns apparently never have had any fashion sense.

Top hats seemed specially favoured by Finnish gentlemen. Flannel shirts and top hats are, to an English mind, incongruities; but in Suomi fashion smiles approvingly on such an extraordinary combination. At the various towns, therefore, mashers strolled about attired in very bright-coloured flannel shirts, turned down flannel collars, trimmed with little bows of silken cord with tassels to fasten them at the neck, and orthodox tall hats.

And theres no decent cuppa.

The old market folk all drink coffee, or let us be frank at once and say chicory, for a really good cup of coffee is almost unknown in Finland, whereas chicory is grownlargely and drunk everywhere, the Finlander believing that the peculiar bitter taste they know and love so well is coffee. Pure coffee, brewed from the berry, is a luxury yet to be discovered by the Finlander.

Finns are racists of course.

But it has its advantages, as the passport rigorously keeps anarchists, socialists, Jews, and beggars out of Suomi.

And the TAX RECORDS ARE PUBLIC – which comes as a surprise… to whom?

Very few persons are rich in Finland according to English lights, but many are very comfortably off. It would be almost impossible there to live beyond one’s income, or to pretend to have more than is really the case, for when the returns are sent in for the income tax, the income of each individual is published. In January every year, in the Helsingfors newspapers, rows and rows of names appear, and opposite them the exact income of the owner.

Apart from cultural and ethnographic observations, Mrs. Tweedie goes on to a thorough analysis of the economic and political situation of the Grand Duchy towards the end of the book. She is amazed of the equality of women, the fact that women are studying in the university and riding bicycles, she writes pages on the Finnish education system – sound familiar, that?

There is no sex in Finland, men and women are practically equals, and on that basis society is formed. Sex equality has always been a characteristic of the race, as we find from the ancient Kalevala poem.

I warmly recommend the book as a read, it also has descriptions of a past world that is no more. And some things still are – someone travelling here should not be “shocked” of these “Finnish things” – mind you if she observed something 112 years ago – it is not exactly any news over here.

Blond Abuse

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 3:06 pm

Just Another Friday Night in Funland

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 11:49 am

Only in the strange and wonderful land of Fin can you slam a fisu with your boss and colleagues, mingle with an opera/theater star like you’re the best of pals,and stumble unknowingly into an erotic costume party, all in one evening. And tonight was supposed to be my chill evening, tomorrow,well, actually now, today was supposed to be the big night I was saving my energy for.

My work had planned a nice evening out: dinner at Loiste, (which was divine-lovely wine, reindeer salad, and a fresh and innovative take on salmon) and then to Kaupungiin Teatteri for “Rebecca.”

http://www.hkt.fi/ohjelmisto/play.php?name=rebe

http://www.hkt.fi/ohjelmisto/kuvat.php?name=rebe

Rebecca, a novel by Daphne du Maurier, and also adapted successfully to film by Alfred Hitchcock, is meant to be a suspenseful and melodramatic tale, and with Sanna Majuri as the lead, Rebecca delivered, as the powerful, intriguing period piece that it is. I was surprised to see Sanna, as I wasn’t expecting to see her-but her voice, energy, and beauty are a real treat, and unmatched throughout the play. Her petite frame and childlike physique suit the role of the naive unnamed main character perfectly. The character of Mrs. Danvers, the Pikku-My like evil housekeeper, and of Mrs. Van Hopper, are both deliciously noteworthy and provide comic relief.  The set was melancholy, gloomy but stunning, a bit like Finland can be when the shadows of darkness and the brilliant spring light are competing with each other.  The gloominess and raw emotion made it not your typical singing and jazz hands bubble gum musical.  If singing and dancing bother you, chances are it might not during this musical, though the singing and musical compilations are quite good.   Even if your Finnish isn’t great, I would really recommend going.  It is clear, and easy to understand what is going on, even if you miss a few small details.  Not to get all dramatic on you, but it reminded me that as frustrated as I get sometimes, that it can be a really beautiful language.  During the intermission, I sent Sanna a text (in this small country, everyone seems to know everyone, and Sanna is my ex-fiance’s cousin, and most likely is the person who gave me my first salmari about 5 years ago). She agreed to meet us all at Juututupa, where we had a nice time, but I was slightly embarrassed of the extra attention that was suddenly coming my way and to put Sanna in a situation where she felt obliged to sign autographs in between sips of tea. Nonetheless, my colleagues enjoyed talking to her after the show, and she was gracious as ever until she had to leave, as she has two shows today, and is also in Spring Awakening.  With 4 to 6 shows a week, she is a true artist that remains faithful to her craft.   We stayed until the last round of fisu before last call and all stumbled onto the last tram together. The evening probably should have ended there.

But I have a friend, T., who is moving to Kokkola on Wednesday, and had promised to stop by her goodbye party.
“Where?” I practically shouted into my phone.
“KAARLE! Just come.”
“Ville? Like, Storyville?”
“NO, KAARLE, by Cantina West!!”
“Is there a cover?”
“FYRA!! MEN VITSI DU MÅST KOMMAR HIT NUUUUU.”

Guilt. Trip. T. was one of my first friends I made in Finland. Of course I have to stop by and say hi. I already got out of helping her move boxes on Wednesday cause I have class after work. So why was I fantasizing about my soft feather perfect IKEA peitto?

Now, it wasn’t exactly the front entrance of Kaarle, it was the side. My first red flag should have been how the bouncer, who we’ll refer to as Snuggles, asked me for my student i.d.
“No, I’m not going to a student party,” I explained.
A half naked boy of about 18 started sliding head first down the spiral staircase. Snuggles shrugged his shoulders, and if he were on a Burger King Commercial, he would have said, “Have it your way, lady,” but with attitude.

Now, the last time I was a real student, the kind that gets a discount and carries a student i.d. around, was about 7 years ago. As I stepped over more unconscious bodies to get up the stairs just to say hi to T., a lump started growing in my throat. What the hell was I doing? I turned around. This couldn’t be it. Two girls as soft porn dominatrix princesses with whips and swords pushed me out of the way. T. called me halfway down the long ass spiral staircase.

“Where are you?”
“I don’t know, I’m lost. I think I might just head home. There are all these crazy costumes everywhere.” I had been teaching first grade all day, and gone straight to the dinner and theater from work. I felt how Martha Stewart must feel if she were ever hanging out at a party in the Playboy Mansion.
“I’m coming to get you. Stay there.”
T. appeared, and I asked her what the hell was going on upstairs.
“Yeah, well, I kind of wanted to find some young easy boy tonight.”
“Is this a student party?”
“Um, hello, this IS NYLE.”
“ANTEEKS, MITÄ!?”
Nylands Nation, as in the Swedish speaking organization that I had been invited to numerous parties, but had never bothered going, and now, felt like it was definitely an experience I could miss.
We climbed over bodies, and T. swatted 18 year old boys who appeared to be 12 off of her, and had to kick them off when they would start humping dancing on her leg.
ABBA’s “Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight” song came on, and I lost T immediately. She was on the prowl. I felt like a teacher on lunch or recess duty. Half of them looked like they were under 15. It felt like something really foul was happening as I watched the older women hunting for the little boys.  I felt like I was 40 when I saw some of the young boys, dressed as Musketeers carrying off some of the even younger girls like cavemen.  One little girl was having a Hiltonesque wardrobe malfunction with everything from the hips down exposed.   From the second I had a black permanent ink heart drawn on my hand to even a juvenile hitting on me, (10 years older! Are they blind?) 500 slurred jäääääte skooooooooj greetings, to the second I was back on the street, with Snuggles waving goodbye and wishing me a nice weekend, the whole last part of the evening was a bit bizarre. But it was just another night in Funland.

15.3.2009

Sadism, Sisu, or Stupidity?

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 4:20 pm

I just got home from the gulag,  otherwise known as Motivus, the mild gag reflex inducing, but economic gym with several locations in Helsinki.  I find the gym to be quite boring, but I do enjoy aerobics classes, especially anything with good music and kind of a dance theme going on.  I did ballet for about 10 years until I got these horrible things called hips and breasts, and height-wise, stopped growing at about 14, and that was the end of my dream of being a tall, graceful ballerina.  But I digress. Spinning is ok, pretty boring after the first 30 minutes, but also my least embarrassing choice, where I am least likely to assault someone.

If I knew more about winter sports, maybe I wouldn’t be so limited to the gym, and it’s not like I’m just a gym junkie or something, but I really need to go a few times a week for 1) stress, and 2) to help keep my thyroid in check along with medication and balanced diet.

Now, today, I thought I was being clever and outsmarting the system after a disastrous day at Motivus yesterday.

Yesterday, I was accused of abusing the reservation system, and now am not allowed to reserve a course for the next 60 days.  That means I just have to try my luck at getting a place in the next 10 classes that I’ve already paid for, because I wasn´t totally sure of the rules or the way the reservation system works after repeatedly asking how to manage my sometimes 4 reservations a week just for a chance to get a spot in one of the aerobics classes.  And if you’ve been to Motivus, you know that sardines have more luxury and space in their tins than people do in a friggin gym class. So that was my first black mark of the day yesterday.

Then, in the Body Pump class, my first time in a long time due to past embarassing incidents, between the Finnish, weights, changing weights, steps, handweights, bars, and rapid machine gun fire commands, I ended up assaulting the gorgeous man in front of me, by not attaching my weight correctly, and it fell off, and didn’t manage to completely smash his face, as we were all lying on our backs, but it hit his shoulder and rolled off and knocked over his water bottle.  Three minutes later, while doing lunges, I step on the girl behind me, and I mean, I stomped her foot off, and when I did my lame little Finglish, ¨sorri!¨ she just muttered a ¨VOI  perkele,¨ and gave me the look, which I imagine to mean, ¨Bitch, I hope you choke on your smoothie after class, your boyfriend dumps you and your ass turns into raejuusto,¨ but luckily I don´t have a boyfriend and my ass already feels a little raejuusto, and I had my smoothie before class so, whatever, she had nothing on me.

All of these accusations piled neatly at my feet, and all I can do is give the blank deer in headlights stare, and say, “Anteeksi, oli mun ensimainen kertoa!” which doesn’t quite explain my ridiculous antics.

It’s not that I don’t understand: yksi, kaksi, kolme, nelja, TUPLA!, ylös, alas, SUPERPUMPPI!!!,  oikealla, TAAS! vasemalla, y, ka, ko, SPORTTI!

But somehow, listening to that, while doing the grape-vine, tupla A ja V, jumping jacks, and these flying, clapping, side leaps that somewhat resemble a grand jete, means that at least 5 people are going to sustain an injury, and most likely they are going to be the people in my immediate surroundings.

But anyway, I was going to outsmart the system.  I picked a class I had never been to, on a Sunday before 1 pm, and I figured I would have the whole class to myself.  It would practically be a private lesson.

Not only was every girl from Punavuori to Hyvinkää there, even though half of them looked like they had giant krapulas and had just rolled out of the bar, there were so many old milfy ladies that made Barbie look like the cheap plastic whore that she is!  They were all fierce, and while I was moaning on the floor, dying from measly girl style push ups, the 6o something year old in front of me was doing them with one hand.  You feel even more ridiculous when the music changes from trance-rave music to ABBA to Ramstein, and back to Britney Spears, yes, in that kind of order.  I decided a more appropriate name for the RVP-Muokkaus class would be “Guantanamo style non-consensual sodomy,” both for me and the people who are kicked, trampled, slapped, and have weights thrown at them, on account of me being a kielitaidaton.

And yet, I keep going back for more.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_fCqg92qks

14.3.2009

Helsinki – 03/14/09

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 9:00 pm

10.3.2009

English comedy, this Saturday at Molly Malone’s!!

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 1:50 pm

Molly Malone’s hosts Helsinki’s official St. Patrick’s Day celebrations each year. Saturday evening is a comedy night, the show is entirely in English. I’ll be doing about 10-15 minutes of mostly-all-new material along with Mikko Iranshahi and host, Nickolay Antonov.

Show kicks off around 9pm, should last maybe 45 minutes or so. No admission charge.

It’s going to be great night of comedy and drinking! :-)

Be sure to RSVP on the Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/event.php?eid=54529041723&ref=mf

Hope to see you there!!

mollymalones

9.3.2009

ABC “Good Morning America” on Friday the 13th has a Finland feature.

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 2:23 pm

The ABC “Good Morning America” did a feature on Finland, and they were up in Kemi at the Snow Castle.

There was a part of the crew in Helsinki earlier this week, and I got interviewed. It was a horizontal sleet storm I froze my nads off for the privilege, but it was fun nevertheless. I didn’t know American breakfast tv was a horror feature, but I guess its the new diet – loose your appetite! Don’t know about you people, but watching my mug on TV in the morning would get me blowing chunks. EDIT: it seems the talking out of my ass ended up on the cutting room floor as I predicted.

Anyways, thanks people for catching the show for us, theres bits on the ABC News website:
=> Watch Video
Left hand side menu
=> World
=> International News
Starting with “Shout it out” => Going Big inside Worlds Biggest Snow Castle… though the order is somewhat reversed in places.

Of course, as I also predicted, the Finns are really concerned of what the 40 million viewers “think of us”.

8.3.2009

How 1,000€ medicine can cost 11€ in Finland

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 6:18 pm

I’m losing hair in strange places on the back of my head – it’s called “Alopecia areata” and is different from traditional male balding. It affects 0.1%-0.2% of the population and while most will see the hair regrow without any treatment, I haven’t been so lucky. It’s not contagious unless you read the blog of someone who suffers from the condition. :-)

I went to the dermatologist for treatment and was prescribed “Propecia” which is standard, prescription-strength hairloss pills. KELA doesn’t cover any of the costs, so I’ve been paying an insane 196€ every three months for my necessary dosage.

After a year I’ve seen slow results on my problem spot (yet my reseeding hairline has grown back! …along with some extra backhair above my ass), so I asked the doctor for an alternative, he said Propecia was the best.

I complained about the high costs and he wrote me a prescription for “Gefina” which is designed to treat the prostate, but is the exact same stuff as Propecia. They come in 500mg tablets, but I just need to cut them down into 100mg-150mg pieces and take one daily.

He gave me a prescription for 120 tablets (600 days of doses for me) which I got from the pharmacy, the total cost…11.63€ (for 100 tablets)!! The pharmacist had a funny grin on her face when she asked, “Did your doctor instruct you how to take these?”, I laughed and said, “He did. One last question, where’s your pill cutters?” LOL!!!!

propecia1

Puhutko Suomea?

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 3:35 pm

At least for the past year, I have been fairly strict about a self-imposed rule that I follow. You see, I don’t often get many chances to practice my Finnish anymore, so besides the hour and a half of my weekly “textbook” Finnish class, (a different language entirely from spoken language, I might add) I really don’t ever use it. That is why, when I go to a store, the bank, a restaurant, etc., I have to speak Finnish. If they switch over to English, then whatever, I tried, and sometimes I continue in Finnish. This works fairly well most of the time, even when I know I am making errors; maybe my scrappiness is seen as some strange form of sisu, struggling onwards, in spite of my lack of awareness of the distinctly different sounds produced by double consonants vs. single consonants. I still cannot differentiate my own speech with words like “kukka” and “kuka.”

Something strange  happens when you are constantly surrounded by a language that you don’t understand. Sometimes you become overly defensive, relying too heavily on body language, and you may become paranoid, imagining everyone is laughing at you or reveling in the stupidity of the inept “kielitaidaton.” Even when you are in sticky or important situations where you insist you don’t understand or speak Finnish, the sometimes stubborn persistence you encounter, of people continuing to speak Finnish, almost willing you to, (it’s so easy if you just listen, idiot,) can sometimes be maddening and calls for desperate measures. I have had too many extreme experiences to always be open minded that people are going to consistently be patient and understanding with you as a person learning a language, and it leaves me a little weary when every time I speak Finnish I feel like I am about to step in a huge pile of dog, well, you get the idea.

Recently, at a birthday party, I asked the bar tender, “Hei. Saisinko yks Lonkero, ja yks cokis, kiitos.”

“Yeah, let’s just do this in English, okay. It’s easier for everyone,” the guy said, a little too gruffly.

Astonished at how rude he was, I asked him if he was the only bartender.

“Yep, you have to deal with me,” he said, laughing.

“Right, that’s okay, I think I’m not really thirsty tonight anyway.” I said, refusing to support jackass behavior.

I puffed off, ready to either scream or cry. I told my astonished friends, who were ready to rip this guy a new one, when I saw him leave the bar and head over towards me.

(Step in dogsh*t feeling, insert here, mixed with sheer panic.) Now what, I thought.

“Hey did I offend you or something?” he asked, with the concern of a robot.

Honesty is the best policy, so here goes, I thought.

“Yeah, you did.” I started. “Look, I’m trying, and I’m sorry if I made a mistake or if my accent is off or whatever, but I am trying to speak your language and you didn’t have to be so rude!”

“Ah, the Finnish?” he asked.

“Yeah, my Finnish,” I answered.

“You see, I don’t speak Finnish, I am French, and I speak French, and English, is it a problem?”

(Dogsh*t feeling times ten. A mountain of it.)

“OH! I’m so sorry,” I said, my face a beetroot now. “I didn’t realize, I thought you were making fun of me!”

“No I’m sorry,” he says, and offers, “ Hey, what do you want to drink? Whatever you like, on the house,” he insists.

“I’m really, really, sorry,” I continue.

“It’s okay,” he says. “Those Finnish guys can be real assholes when you don’t speak the language, eh?”

Pretty rich coming from a French guy, I think, I can’t help erupting into laughter, the tension of embarrassment is just too much now.

6.3.2009

When banks become nationalized…

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 4:31 pm

The New F***ing Citibank – watch more funny videos

2.3.2009

Finnish politicians on safari

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 4:28 pm

Today’s YLE headline made me laugh…

arican_safari

Pension age up, KELA contributions down, and you still owe the tax office for their mistakes

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 1:24 pm

The Global credit crunch and the recession that has been its after-effect has slowly been gnawing at the Finnish economy. The wailing over a shortage of labor has switched over to a louder wailing from people being laid off or terminated. The latest figures from the Ministry of Labor state that the trend is looking worse.

Meanwhile, the Government, lead by “things don’t need to be discussed” PM Vanhanen has been taking steps to stall the recession. The first measure was to remove a part of the employer contributions, known as the “social insurance payment” to enable employers to keep their laborforce on for longer. Maybe a cosmetic change, nevertheless KELA wasn’t amused as their budget is tightening. Last week a new proposal was made changing the highest pension age from 63 to 65. While I am quite assured I’ll be 75 before I get to pension, the proposed change has caused more than a little stir with both the labor unions and the opposition parties. (*)

There is also fears that in the current economic situation and the fact that the last years of your employment directly relate to your pension has made more and more people in the ages now allowed to go on pension to “take the money and run” and not chancing being laid off and loosing out. Which of course puts more burden on KELA and the pension insurance companies. And as we’re in a recession there isn’t as much revenue coming in and the investments of the insurance companies are in the red, it seems we will not be seeing too many tax cuts. And we won’t seeing too much improvement in public services – any public services.

What does this mean in real life one might ask. If you aren’t depending on such services you might miss the situation, but if you depend on services you might feel the full blast. One small streamlining operation by the tax office for example will effect small enterpreneurs. Basically your monthly returns must be both in time, and correct, or you’ll be hit with a fine. Which also is a bit rude as if you figure out you made a mistake and go correct it you still be fined for it. And as tax fines are non-negotiable… Oh yes, I bet the revenues will be certain for a while at least.

(*)The HS International Edition has a pretty extensive coverage of the ins and outs.

1.3.2009

Miss Finland 2009

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 9:57 pm

Essi Pöysti was a finalist in 2007, now a winner in 2009. Looks like she really stepped up her game over the past two years…

essi_poysti_miss_finland1

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