Sunday, March 28, 2010

Muumit - The Moomins

I was adviced after yesterday's post that the lovely characters of the Moominworld - Muumimaailma also have English versions of their names.

Among others, you have Moomintroll - Muumipeikko, Moominmamma - Muumimamma and Muumipappa - Moominpappa. My favorite character is though Little My - Pikku Myy.

To get more familiar with the characters, you can go here. If you come to Finland, we have at Naantali a whole island full of Moomins, the Moominworld! Fantastic place for all Moomin fans.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Japanese wisdom

Against the wisdom you find later, I must say you readers are boooooring.

Only 4 replies to the poll about men wearing hats indoors. The vote result was clear though: 100% opinion that gentlemen do not wear hats inside.
(Click the pictures to make them bigger) 
If you like the picture, go here.

Apparently the winter is relatively cold also in Japan. I have not yet been there, but I have heard so many things about Osaka, Tokyo as well as recommendations about the country side that I need to go there some day. Rice fields, mountains etc. and also some ski resorts would be fantastic to experience as tourist, not to talk about living there...!

I guess we also have something in common, Finnish and Japanese, or what do you think about the Japanese wisdom;

"One kind word can warm three winter months."

 Talking about Japan;
Finnair has painted Muumi-characters to the MD-11 planes that fly to Japan. Apparently we have quite many Muumi-, Muumi Mamma-, Muumi Pappa-, Pikku Myy-, Hattivatti- etc. fans in Japan.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Gentlemen, please take your hats off!

In today's Helsingin Sanomat, the main news paper in Finland, was an article about men wearing hats indoors. No matter if it is in banks, shops or cafes, you see too many people wearing their hats. This applies particularly with the younger generation.

I am pleased to say that we remind our son to take the hat off especially in cafe or restaurant table.
Mitä sinä olet mieltä - saavatko miehet pitää hattua sisätiloissa? Oletko riittävän rohkea kertomaan mielipiteesi vastaamalla oikean puoleisessa palkissa olevaan kyselyyn?
What do you think, is it ok to wear a hat indoors?
Let's see if you are brave enough to tell me your opinion in the poll on the right hand side.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Shame on you, lazy parents - Activate you kids!

Short while ago I was speaking with a colleague who was going to baby-sit 6 year old twin boys. She told me that the kids were pretty wild ones and that of course alerted my active parent / coach-attitude.

I think wild kids are normal kids and the problem is not their energy, they need to be offered proper ways to channel the energy! All kids have both physical and mental energy bank that needs to be emptied regularly - and if you don't do it properly it will be directed to what parents consider "bad behaviour".
Give the kids proper stimulations and keep them active - physically!
The colleague of mine has got a 9 years old son herself so she is somewhat familiar with what boys are interested in. Naturally they will play X-Box, PlayStation or what have you if you give them a chance.

But also they are likely to enjoy outdoor activities and games if you just offer the option and encourage it. Don't be lazy - take the effort and join the game, you might enjoy it yourself too!

What can you do with such "wild" boys then?
Yep, I heard they only wanna play the consol games but so what...

From top of my head I suggested few things that I'd even like to do myself;
Take advantage of the winter, take a sleigh with you and hit a nearby hill. It doesn't need to be a big one, just a hill. Running up the hill for an hour, playing in the snow and having a snow ball fight I can tell you a cup of hot chocolate tastes fantastic!
Football is always fun, but you can also go for a walk in the woods - or if it is winter a walk in the neighbourhood is good too. You can set as a target the hot chocolate pit-stop at a cafe far enough - and then you can walk back another route. Take a camera with you and let the kids take pics of what they are interested (or funny looking trees, leaves, cool cars, clouds, houses or what ever...). Nowadays taking pics with digital camera doesn't cost a cent.

Afterwards, you can play cards. A simple game you can play is called "7" - it is played with regular deck and is similar to UNO. Then there are plenty of board games from traditional Monopoly to various different ones. And you should not forget Yatzy, the dice game.
When was the last time you read a book to the kids? Let them choose one and read it regularly - together.

After the colleague's baby-sitting I asked her what did they do. The answer was a dissapointment:
They were playing the damn Playstation...

Please take the effort and be active, stimulate you kids - and don't forget the books!
PS I saved an article from a local paper some tips for a car trip. I will try to share it with you, even if it is in Finnish...

I was thrilled to see we have been using some of them. This year again we went to the ski trip with a car, just like we've done since they were small - and we have always managed without GameBoys or DVD's. Surely they make the trip smoother, but also more boring.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

...and it is snowing!
Many people say enough is enough, but I just can't get enough. If I would not be half sick (flue), I would have put the sauna on and taken again a walk at the back yard. The 2 meters high snow pile has shrank a bit but it will give us a natural cooler for a spring BBQ.

Let's see how long the temperature stays below 0 C, the longer the better - until we step directly to subtropical summer (I wish...). What makes it a bit easier now, my new car has got the fuel heater that warms up the car at the time I set it. For example tomorrow morning it is nice and warm at 7:25 when I need to head to the office. No matter how cold it is, the windows are clear. Just like today while the car next to mine had the 5 cm snow on top...

If you wanna follow the weather from road cameras, you can do it here. Unfortunately this one is only in Finnish.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The winter is not over!

If you have thought the winter is over, you are dead wrong. In the past few days we have had about 5 cm fresh snow and this morning we woke up with -15 C. And that was here at southern part of the country - up north they have -30 C and the same is expected for tonight...

Yesterday the snow was melting where the sun was shining, despite of about -10 C during the day so do not estimate the power of the spring sun. This pic was taken a week ago. The sea is frozen and this man here is ice fishing.
And if you wish to go swimming, that is perfectly fine - just bring your own towel. This place is used daily so it is real. There is a pump that keeps the water running so it stays open.
By the way, if you have not heard: I have enjoyed the winter all the time - and still do!!!

And the days are getting longer all the time; now the sun comes up at 6:35 am and goes down 6:24 pm. The day is already 11 hours 49 minutes long...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Do we have a good healthcare system?

Our daughter had a minor hand injury at basketball practice and we took her to a doctor to check nothing was broken. We could have used the public service - which in generic is considered to be good. Yes we have the system extremely good comparing to US but having experience from the Belgium system, I can say the public healthcare in Finland is nothing to write home about.

If you go to the emergency, you normally need to wait anything from about an hour up. Since we were talking about x-ray and sophisticated hand bones we decided to use the insurance and went to the private doctor.

Directly to a specialist doctor, x-ray, 2nd talk with the doctor and out via the cashier. From start to end it took about an hour and doctor's time was used for ~20 minutes.

Nooooo, x-ray 93 Euros and the doctor fee 75 Euros. The social security system covers 31 Euros from that, but the rest is up to you to take care of. Or the insurance like in our case.

Here is some more price info for you:
Taking a taxi at normal weekday around 5 pm is not a cheap trip - not to talk about night time. Actually taking a taxi in Finland is never cheap. Before the car starts, the meter shows 5.10 Euros and after 13 km trip, lasting 21 minutes, the total cost was 29.70 Euros. I do support deregulating the strictly limited taxi licence system - which of course all the taxi drivers are hanging on to.

At night time the cost example is 22 euros that a 5.3 km trip costs around midnight - including the 5.20 Euros we had to pay extra for the 8 minutes the driver was waiting for us. Naturally the option would have been to go out and wait for the taxi in the middle of the night in -5 C degrees... At night time the cost for starting the engine is 8 Euros.
But you can always call a taxi where you can sing karaoke!

However, I don't wish to go to the Swedish model where quality and wild competition can turn things upside down...

The quality is mixed and the competition can take the price extremely high like in Malmö train station. If you wish to get a ride for about 3 km trip, prepare to pay even 20 Euros - if they even take you for such a short trip.

So is our health care or taxi system good or not?
I really don't know...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Säämies Pekka Poudasta Eversti Pekka Majuriin

Eilisessä Hesarin Kuukausiliitteessä oli hyvä lista jo pitkään nauretuista nimien ja ammattien yhtenäisyyksistä. Joukosta löytyy uusia sekä tuttuja herkkuja. Säämies Pekka Pouta ja laulaja Arja Koriseva lienee kaikille tuttuja, mutta kenelle oli tuttuja veteraanijuoksija Vilho Loppukaarre tai urologi Martti Ala-Opas?

Klikkaamalla kuvaa näet sen suurennettuna.

Guys, this is about how the names and professions connect.
 These are Finnish ones that are difficult to translate, but what do you think about military priest called Pertti Hell who has also had international career. or ice sculpture artist Kimmo Frost If I try to translate some others, we have for example navy officer Mr Storm, gardener Plant and dentist Steelhammer...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

How to avoid McTourism?

In case you want to avoid McDonalds-restaurants - or Burger King - while traveling, there are not that many options in Europe. However, surprisingly one new country has now joined the list: Iceland!
HS Kuukausiliite from today
Some years ago we were in Thailand an after Bangkok we went to Koh Samui -island (yep, I know Koh means iceland).  Great place, but the tourism is there. Real proof is having both McDonalds and Pizza Hut on the main street. Just to clarify, we didn't go - preferred more local ones at the back streets...

How to find a place without the burgermania? About a year ago Burger King pulled out from Iceland and now the last McDonalds has left the country.

While ecenomic downturn has destroyed the currency,even onion became extremely expensive. The McD lead in Iceland said that one could get a bottle of good whisky with the same money that you need to pay for a kilo of onion that they needed to import from Germany (Iceland is not the easiest place to grow veggies you know...).

If you wish to visit a non-burger kingdom, your options are Albania, Kosovo and Vatican. Story is that the Albanians have a Kolonat-chain, and their logo has got two yellow arches on red background...