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Finland for Thought » 2009 » May | 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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And find out more about me: www.philschwarzmann.com



Getting laid off as a foreigner is especially difficult

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 10:19 pm

I haven’t got laid off…yet. But in today’s current economic situation, no one is safe. When I first moved to Finland I was unemployed for several months, and it was hard, but I’m wondering if it could be even harder now.

When I migrated in 2002, I didn’t have much more than a bunch of clothes, some CD’s, and a little cash. I had modest expectations, and I guess there were low expectations of me. I had little to lose, and worst case scenario, I just pack my crap up and move back home.

But almost seven years later – I have a loans, a car, a mortgage, responsibilities, a lot of friends, high expectations and there’s high expectations of me…a lot to lose. Without even exaggerating, you gotta figure that I’m not qualified for 99.99% of jobs with my less-than-perfect Finnish skills. Combine that with the absolute shit job market we have at the moment, my chances of finding worthwhile employment is slim, even with the network and skills I’ve gained since first arriving here.

It could mean me packing up everything and saying goodbye. Returning back to the states is fine, but I’d want to return on my own terms. I think I speak for all foreigners in the post above.

Seinfeld has a few bits about Finland

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 10:47 am

Oldies but goodies…


Shop until you drop

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 10:23 pm

Well it looks like you can start soon forgetting to stock up for the long holidays. The government has gotten through the wrangling over shop opening hours, and the legislation seems to be ending up as follows:
- Shops can be open 12-18 Sundays except on “Holy Days” say like Pentecost.
- Shops smaller than 400 sq.m can be open 24/7 if they so wish.
- However there is also an amendment that small shops in malls may stay closed on Sundays if they so wish.

When the law gets passed and we step into the shopping era is still to be seen… baby steps, still requires a pole vault to be able to buy your Tylenol at 3am at the Siwa.


Finnish-Russian custody battle

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 4:28 pm

I’ve covered Finnish custody/abduction battles in the past (remember Outi Koski or this strange fellow?) – Here’s one about how the Finnish father abducted his son from the Russian mother, then the Finnish consulate in Russia drove them back to Finland…

In the interview, Anton’s mother describes how she met the boy’s father 15 years ago in Tallinn. After a few years she moved to Finland, but when Anton was born, over five years ago, his parents had already separated. The mother said that the Finnish father promised to take care of the boy after the divorce.

A few years later, relations between the two parents deteriorated, and the mother decided to leave Finland to live with a friend near Moscow, along with her son. While in Russia, she got her son Russian citizenship.

Izvestija wrote that in April this year Anton’s father decided to do as the mother hand done, and abduct the son and take him back to Finland.

The mother said that she was walking on the street with her son when the father, wearing dark glasses, abducted Anton. Father and son spent time at the Finnish consulate in St. Petersburg, until they fled to Finland, in a car driven by a Finnish diplomat.


Finns have highest job absenteeism in EU

Tags: Everything — Author: @ 7:02 am

This is interesting considering Finns’ self-labeled high work ethic

Shift work can have significant adverse effects on health, according to a broad study by Eurofound, an EU body dealing with the improvement of living and working conditions in the union. Researchers found that Finland has the highest degree of shift work as well as the highest work absenteeism rates in the EU.

…I guess we shouldn’t complain about your low salaries if we can’t show up for work. And this is surprising, Finns have the highest rate of shift work in the EU…

Eurofoud’s research of workers’ health in 21 EU states found that people who work in shifts, including night-shift work, have 60 percent higher absenteeism rates due to illness than people who work during the day. People working weekends had 30 percent higher absenteeism rates than people working typical 9-5 hours.

Finland leads the league in shift work. Of the companies surveyed, Finnish companies reported engaging workers in shift work more often than other European firms. Finland has the third highest rate of Sunday work after the United Kingdom and Sweden.


What’s your Twitter name?

Tags: Everything — Author: @ 10:58 am

Like the rest of the free world, I’m on Twitter. I still prefer Facebook status updates, but Twitter is nice cause it’s public. Come follow me on Twitter! @philschwarzmann

And everyone – Please put your Twitter name in the comments below!



Pizza Slut

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 10:24 am

I’ve always wondered why Pizza Hut, the world’s best pizza, hasn’t had much success in Finland. Now I know, this tiny “Medium” pizza below which about the size of my belly button (the photo doesn’t do it justice), costs 18 euros ($24.64 USD). LOL!!!

When we picked up our pizzas (we had a 2-for-1 coupon), we thought they made a mistake and gave us smalls…then we saw the “Small”, about the size of pimple.



Swine Flu officially comes to Finland

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 12:42 pm

The Finns heard “oink! oink!” while in Mexico but didn’t flinch, they needed to hear “röh! röh!“…

On Tuesday morning health officials confirmed the country’s first two cases of swine flu. The two infected Finns returned from a trip to Mexico City and Cancun via Amsterdam on May 6. Their flight arrived at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport at 9:45 p.m. Health officials urge people who were on the same flight to contact their health care provider if they begin to show symptoms of fever or respiratory illness.

The first of the patients became ill on May 6, and the second a couple of days later, according to officials speaking at a Ministry of Health and Social Affairs press conference on Tuesday.



Ever wanted to try stand-up comedy!?

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 1:20 pm

Ever wanted to try stand-up comedy!? Now’s your chance!! Manala will be hosting Finland’s first ever English Open Mic night on June 10th at 8pm, hosted by yours truly. Anybody (yes, anybody) can get five minutes of stage time at one of Helsinki’s top comedy venues.

While the concept of an “open mic” is kinda new to Finland, it’s been popular in the states and the UK for decades. This is where ALL stand-ups begin, every famous stand-up comedian you can think of all took this first step before launching their careers.

On June 10th you’ll see a nice mix of professional Finnish comics testing out English material (cause if you want to work outside of Finland, you can’t use Finnish!) as well as aspiring comics like myself, and hopefully a few of you first-timers as well! …and let’s all cross our fingers for the borderline-insane/borderline-genius guy that makes open mics so famous.

If you’re interested in performing, please e-mail: openmic@botta.fi

Tickets for the show are just 2€. They hope to make this a regular event, so let’s give them a good showing for their debut night!! Hope to see you all there!!



Paying for coat check without any coat

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 2:49 pm

What the fuck is up with this Helsinki trend – Last night I went to Nolla in Helsinki (a young, hipster downtown bar), they charged 2.50e for coat check. It was a warm night and I had no coat, but they forced me to pay it anyways.

It’s not just Nolla who does this, it’s popular around many Helsinki bars. What they should say is “Cover charge: 2.50e. Includes coat check.” instead of well, lying. I’m not customer service expert but it’s probably not a good thing to piss your clientele off as they enter your establishment.


Weed and Brothels

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 12:59 pm

Two great stories for today – Finnish taxpayer money going to build brothels (well, not really, more like sex slaves) in Afghanistan…

Finnish officials suspect that a new women’s prison in northern Afghanistan, built through Finnish money and political will, may have been turned into a brothel. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs suspects that inmates may have been forced to sexually service guards, employees and their guests.

And an Espoo mother of two got an idea from the show, “Weeds”, to grow and sell marijuana

A single mother in Espoo and her two underage sons intended to make the content of a popular TV-series a reality, and began growing cannabis in the home for sale.
The attempt foundered after a couple of months when police got wind of the venture after one of the boys was found in possession of some of the drug.
The mother and her boys had watched the series Weeds, starring Mary-Louise Parker in the role of the pot-growing suburban mum, on Finnish TV, and had picked up the storyline as a business idea.


“What Finland can teach America about true luxury”

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 11:46 am

Less is more, says the Christian Science Monitor… (Jesus was obviously a Finn)

What is true luxury? Just when I thought I’d settled on my answer – a flat-screen TV the size of Kansas and a leather-upholstered car that can travel at triple the speed limit – I made several visits to Finland. Shortly after my return the financial crisis hit. Finland has been on my mind ever since. In these hard times, we could learn a few things about luxury from the Finns.

Strolling the streets of Helsinki, the capital, I noticed a lack of grand architecture and opulent homes, and an abundance of modest cars. Helsinki was a nice enough city, and it had some gems of modern design, but part of me felt that Finland was a bit dull. And, strangely, some of the Finns I met seemed to take pride in this.

[...]During my visits, I met some North American expats, including a Canadian who’d lived in the US for years. “I talk to friends back in North America,” he told me, “and they tell me about all the latest toys they’ve bought. Here I’m just puttering away on my little house like a Finn, and that’s about it. The pace of life is slower. I like that.”

Some people want toys, some want a slower pace of life – A country’s goal should be to give their people the option rather than dictate, or better yet, give them both.

Finland, violator of human rights?

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 7:09 am

Wow! From YLE

Finland has received more judgments handed down by the European Court of Human Rights than the rest of the Nordic countries together over the past 15 years.

According to the newspaper Turun Sanomat, Finland has received a total of 75 binding decisions, of which all but one have been made over the past 15 years.

Sweden, for example, has received a total of 22 court judgments, Norway 19, Denmark 9 and Iceland just one.

In April, the European Court of Human Rights reprimanded Finland over the eight-year long case of a Helsinki man. The court intends to hear nine Finnish cases concerning questions of freedom of speech.

Finland has, so far, lost three-quarters of its cases before the court.

Well we know that basic freedom of speech is often lacking in this country. Here’s some other human rights concerns in Finland, from Wikipedia

1. Conscientious objectors to both military and civilian service are jailed for six months. There are about 10-20[citation needed] conscientious objectors every year. Most are in minimum security, open facilities, and objecting is not entered on criminal records.
2. Charges of racist/xenophobic treatment of ethnic minorities by officials, and that refugees are hand-picked by the Ministry of the Interior on basis of country of origin citing “security reasons”.[citation needed]
3. A case in which agitated asylum seekers were drugged, for deportation.[citation needed]
4. Unfair court action in the light of the verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights.[citation needed]

* Handling time has been unacceptably long particularly in civil cases or criminal court cases relating to bankruptcy, e.g. eight years in the court of first instance and 12 years in total

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