Monday, November 30, 2009

Watch me post about Sports!

There was more news from Finland in our local paper yesterday, the Nordic World Cup results. The real story from Kuusamo, Finland and the Nordic World Cup was the amazing performance of Kris Freeman:

KUUSAMO, Finland - Andover's Kris Freeman finished a career-best fourth yesterday in the men's 15-kilometer classic style skiing World Cup race, and in the process posted the best non-sprint finish for a U.S. skier in a World Cup race in more than 26 years.

Kris Freeman is New Hampshire's hope for some Olympic medal action next year.

It is strange to think that I will be following the Vancouver Olympics from Finland and I will therefore have the Finnish slant on all events. Finland has the fourth highest per capita medal count in Olympics history and a long history of doing well in the winter sports. Many of the players on the Finnish National Hockey team play in the NHL and are familiar to American hockey fans. It is fun to ask a child for their favorite Finnish hockey player. In Concord they are likely to say Tuukka Rask. Rask is a goalie for the Boston Bruins and in this house we are watching his career with interest. In Atlanta a child would say Kari Lehtonen.

Fashion disaster narrowly averted

Our Finnish friends, Aki and Niko, came over for dinner last night. Before dinner they were grilled by the hard hitting journalistic duo of Ella and Sophia. No favorite color will go undisclosed! The best part of the evening was when they told me that people in Finland do not wear snow pants all day long. That was my plan--snow pants all day long, every day. I would have been the only person swishing through Turku in snow pants if Aki and Niko hadn't set me straight.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I am sitting here with "that sinking feeling". We are now one month away from our move to Finland and I do not feel ready. In fact, I feel that I will never be ready. I don't even know where to start to try to be ready.

Sophia and I spent the day in Cambridge yesterday. We went to the Harry Potter exhibit and mooched around Harvard Square. I was trying to think festive thoughts, but it is hard with one big move hanging over my head! My new goal is to be better organized by December 6. December 6 is Finnish Independence Day, Itsenaisyyspaiva. I will need a blue and white cake to celebrate!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Plea bargains

I was surprised to find that Chris has been asked to lecture on plea bargaining while he is Finland. As a former Fulton County Public Defender, plea bargaining is something I know well. I would walk into the jury room with my 20 case files and start to dance with the prosecutor. Preparation included knowing all the weaknesses in the state's case and what your client was willing to take. The biggest weapon you had for extracting a decent plea bargain was to say, "Okay, bring it on." Sometimes the best offers came after you announced ready on the trial calendar.

Plea bargaining is not part of the process in Europe. Chris sent me this article from the Helsingin Sanomat:

Working group to look into possibility of reduced sentences in exchange for admission of guilt

Working group to look into possibility of reduced sentences in exchange for admission of guilt

Minister of Justice Tuija Brax (Green League) has set up a working group to look into the possibility of giving reduced sentences to criminal suspects in exchange for their admissions of guilt.

Plea bargaining is a disturbing practice if you think about it
for too long. It will be interesting to watch how plea bargaining develops in Finland.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Now I need to dust off my swan dress!

My latest Finnish news flash is that a new Moomin movie is coming out and the soundtrack includes a song by Bjork!
I hope we are able to see the movie while we are in Finland. I highly recommend the Moomin books. Tove Jansson also wrote books for adults:
  • Sommarboken (1972, The Summer Book) (translated into English)
  • Solstaden (1974, Sun City) (translated into English)
  • Den ärliga bedragaren (1982, The Honest Swindler) (translated into English in 2009, under the title The True Deceiver)
  • Stenåkern (1984, The Field of Stones)
  • Anteckningar från en ö (1993, Notes from an Island) (autobiography; illustrated by Tuulikki Pietilä)

I have read The Summer Book, but haven't yet read her other books. True Deceiver is receiving good reviews. It is going on my list. I have ordered "When I Forgot"by
Elina Hirvonen from Amazon. I read a good review of that book in the New York times.

Drunk, insane and American

Q: How do you tell a Finnish extrovert?

A: He looks at your shoes when he's talking to you!

My husband loves Finnish humor and especially enjoys the humorous videos of Martti Suosalo and Stan Saanila on the Helsingin Sanomat web site. This video
has the 2 comedians assuming the role of security for the Finnish president. You don't have to know Finnish to laugh as you see them walking the president's cats.

Here is a joke I swiped from the web:

You know you've been in Finland too long when a stranger smiles at you and you assume that:
a. he is drunk
b. he is insane
c. he is American
d. he is all of the above

Since I grin at everyone, I assume I will be labeled as drunk, insane and American when we get to Finland.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Yesterday, Afghanistan slipped three places to become the second most corrupt country on the Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index. Only Somalia is perceived to be more corrupt. Finland is no. 6 while the United States trails at no. 19. When I hear about pervasive corruption I think about how hard it must be to institute change.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Preparing to leave

I have been busy preparing an article and a talk about the former owner of my house and he had no ties to Finland! But I do love this picture. Elwin Page is the young man in a suit to the far right of the picture. Please notice the dog. After tomorrow, full speed ahead to Finland.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Finnish Star Trek...Star Wreck

I might have to buy this movie for a certain someone who loves Finnish humor. This is a Finnish take off on Star Trek with an Airplane sensibility. Have some light balls Captain Sherrypie!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Check out Elvis' belt

The Leningrad Cowboys! Always a hit. Anything by Aki Kaurismaki is bound to be interesting and very Finnish.

The African Star

On a rainy day a board game is always a good idea. A Finnish board game is a better idea! The most famous Finnish game is Afrikan Tahti. It was designed in 1949 by a 19 year old and was first produced in 1951. Every Finnish home contains a copy of this game. I love the map that serves as the game board. You have a choice of starting in Tangiers or Cairo. I always choose Tangiers in honor of Paul Bowles. You then plod around the continent looking for gems. I never find a gem and consequently never have enough money to fly. Not so Sophia. She is always jetting around in search of the diamond. Your roll!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Christmas is coming!

Last night Sophia told us she was thinking of her Christmas gift list...books, clothes etc....but also she announced that she wanted a Finnish/English dictionary like Dad's! Well, I know how much Dad's Finnish/English dictionary weighs. I bought it in Cambridge and schlepped it around Boston one festive shopping season. Happily we are a household blessed with numerous Finnish/English dictionaries and she received one then and there. Ahhh, you never forget your first Finnish/English dictionary!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stay within the speed limit!

I am trying to learn more about the Finnish criminal justice system. One thing I have learned is that fines for driving offenses are calculated on your monthly income. The more you make, the more you pay.

In 2001 a director of Nokia was fined $103,600 for speeding in Helsinki. He was driving 47 mph in a 31 mph zone. The latest news on the fine was that the speedy Finn was appealing the fine because the value of his stock portfolio had fallen!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Finn bit for today

The Helsingen Sanomat reported that an American from Sheboygan (Sheboygan!) Wisconsin put his naming rights up for sale on Ebay and the right to name him anew was bought by a Finnish store. I enjoyed this quote:

There seems to be some confusion over the meaning of the new name Calvin has taken - the newspaper says "Verkkokauppa" means "catalogue", when it is closer to "online shop" or "online trading". But what's in a name, really?


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Elvis in Finnish

The King in Finnish (or Latin)

My friends and I are all aglow with the prospect of the new Cirque show about Elvis in Vegas. I remembered a news story about Elvis from Finland and diligently sought it out. A Finnish professor, recognizing that some things never die, translated Elvis' oeuvre into Latin.

Surrender - Nunc aeternitatis
It's Now Or Never - Nunc hic aut numquam
Can't Help Falling In Love - Non adamare non possum
Wooden Heart - Cor ligneum
Love Me Tender - Tenere me ama

I will do everything in my power to catch Latin Elvis in Finland! Shakes fist at heavens.

Monday, November 9, 2009


The celebrations marking the fall of the Berlin Wall yesterday made me think about how narrowly Finland avoided becoming an SSR. The history of its Baltic neighbor, Estonia, shows how easily the Nazis and the Soviets were able to move in and conquer their neighbors. Finland avoided the fate of Estonia, but it was a hard fought victory and not without loss. Finland fought the Winter War and the Continuation War against the Soviet Union, but lost part of Karelia to the Soviet Union. Karelia is often considered to be the heart of Finland and its loss is mourned today. Finland also had to fight the Nazis at that time. There are some good movies about that time. I recommend The Cuckoo.

The Kalevala

Sophia's teacher in Finland has included me on the parent email list so I learned that Sophia's class recently visited the art museum in Turku to see an exhibition of the Kalevala paintings. Luckily Sophia will not be behind her class. She knows all about the Kalevala. We bought the book, The Canine Kalevala for her birthday when we were in Finland in 2007. The Kalevala is the national epic poem of Finland and is credited with helping mobilize the Finns to struggle for independence from Russia. Because of the Kalevala's central role in Finnish independence, it has been the subject of many painters. If you want an idea of what the Kalevala sounds like when read aloud, dip into some Longfellow:

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

Apparently Longfellow borrowed the cadence of the Kalevala for his Hiawatha epic.

Longfellow, like another American I know, studied Finnish! Who knew?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Complaint choir

It is part of human nature to complain. I should know! The trick is to complain beautifully. Here is a link to the Helsinki Complaints Choir. The music is beautiful. There are subtitles so you can read the trials and tribulations of Finnish life. Plus, if you watch the video, you realize it must be pretty cold in Finland!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pictures from our trip to Finland in 2007

Here are some pictures we took when we visited Finland at midsummer.

Finland in the Concord Monitor Again!

Maybe seeking mentions of Finland in random books and periodicals is becoming boring and I promise to stop, but I can't let today go by without mentioning the last line in the B1 story in the Concord Monitor Voters bring back Glahn. Finland also made the Sports section of the Concord Monitor, but I will stop with the Bill Glahn election victory.

This news story makes our temporary move to Finland seem very real. We are well into November now and have tickets for Finland on December 27. I feel as though I am living two lives. I am still going to meetings, making lunch for Sophia, teaching my class. At the same time I am trying to plan leaving this big house and moving to an apartment in Turku. Not surprisingly I am treating myself to a small Oban every night. It helps with the persistent cough.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

More Finnish tidbits

My book group recently read The Soloist. This book was part of a community project, Concord Reads. There were two Finnish Easter eggs in the book. In one scene Nathaniel Ayers, the homeless musician, meets Esa-Pekka Salonen at Disney Hall in Los Angeles. In a later scene, Ayers and Steve Lopez enjoy the music of Sibelius playing on a car radio. I continue my search for Finnish in my daily life. I can report first-hand that Finland was not mentioned once in the 4 hours of meetings at the Concord School Board last night. Dommage!

The picture is Sophia at the Sibelius monument in Helsinki, July 2007.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Finnish news in the Concord Monitor

Finland made the news in the Concord Monitor , our local paper this weekend! It was an AP story written by Matti Huutanen about the world's largest cruise ship. This ship, the Oasis of the Seas, was built in Turku. You can see video of the ship narrowly passing under a bridge in Denmark here.

The other news here in Concord, NH, was Halloween. It was a wonderful holiday. Friday night was the Halloween Howl on Main Street and Saturday was trick and treating. Sophia, Nathan and Vivian enjoyed their annual trip to Auburn Street and the ritual sorting of the candy. It was a very Pippi evening!

I wondered whether Halloween is such a big event in Finland. Apparently not. According to this web site, All Saint's Day, Pyhainpaiva, is the celebration. This is a day to celebrate saints and the departed. The closest thing to our Halloween is Palm Sunday! On Palm Sunday in Finland children dress as witches and collect candy door to door.