Posts filed under Finland

F for Fresita

F for FresitaI admit to sampling, not too disagreeably, the Chilean strawberry infused sparkling "Fresita" when it first came on the market a few years ago. But the degree to which Finns - especially of the female working class variety - have adopted the stuff is truly shocking. It's now sold in little 25cl bottles, which the faux trendy stadi couple next to me at Roberts cafe in Helsinki-Vantaa just washed their morning coffee and pulla down with. That this was 8:30am scarcely matters. The sweetly sticky stuff has become soda pop for adults. It now makes me gag as much from the taste in my mouth as the repeated exhortations of those proferring it that, "it's made with real strawberries." End rant.

Posted on September 11, 2010 and filed under Drinks, Finland.

33 Years in Rovaniemi

This isn't the most timely entry, since the anniversary party was over a month ago. But now we have the pictures to prove it. Bruce, Nicolas and I celebrated the anniversary of our combined 33 years in Rovaniemi. We all arrived on the same day, Aug. 31, ten years ago for Nicolas and me and 13 years ago for Bruce. We rented out Lauri hall and had an absolute blast. Special thanks to fellow foreigners Michael and Mike for the band. You rocked.

Posted on October 5, 2007 and filed under Finland, Photos.

My Schmap Photo

I was recently contacted by a company called Schmap, who are pretty neat web-based and downloadable city guides. It seems they found a grainy, blurry photo I took with my cameraphone of the Depeche Mode concert last year at Hartwall Arena on my Flickr page. So now my photo is one of the pictures illustrating Hartwall Arena in their guide. I guess it looks pretty cool in thumbnail size. Good strategy on Schmap's part plugging in to online social networks in this way to drum up word-of-mouth among the digerati. I've already noticed others who received similar requests as I did are also blogging about Schmap, so it looks like the strategy is working for them.

Posted on September 19, 2007 and filed under Blogging, Finland, Photos.

Strange Sightings on Vancouver Busses

While waiting to catch a bus downtown from my folks place in North Vancouver yesterday, a bus passed going the other way with a billboard ad on the side reading something like, "Etälä Suomen Lääni". It took a few moments for me to remember that I was actually no longer in Finland, so seeing Finnish text on the side of a bus should be rather unusual, to say the least. Marjo helped me track a version of the ad down, which is part of Diesel's rather questionable 'global warming' campaign. While Diesel's online content seems to show them wanting to promote awareness about global climate change, the underlying message in the ads seems to be "instead of trying to stop global warming, just go with it because the future will be hotter and sexier." This seems to be exactly the critique of Climate Change Denial, where we found this image. Then while on my way downtown, I noticed that a woman in front of me had a tattoo across the back of her neck in Inuktitut syllabics. Is this the successor trend to the cultural appropriations of tribal, Celtic, and the omnipresent Chinese characters by people with zero connection or actual awareness of the original cultures and contexts? In the wake of the near universalization of the Inukshuk in Canada, such as in the Vancouver 2010 logo Inuit culture seems to be wide-open for appropriation (no doubt going back to soap stone carvings and beyond). While it is possible that this woman was actually a pale Inuit, somehow I doubt it. It looks like "jiasika" to me. Any of my Inuktitut speaking friends care to translate for me?

Posted on July 13, 2007 and filed under Canada, Finland, North, Travel.

HÃ¥kan Hardenberger & Rovaniemi Chamber Orchestra

Just came back from the Christmas concert in the Rovaniemi Church, led by Swedish trumpet maestro HÃ¥kan Hardenberger. Quite an impressive artist, and some nice wintery-mood tunes (mostly 20thC. classical composers, with some Bach thrown in for Christmas' sake). HÃ¥kan is considered one of the top classical trumpet players around. He's even got his stuff available on eMusic. :-)

Posted on December 20, 2006 and filed under Finland, Tunes.

Pielpajärvi Hike

I got back from some time in Inari last week and the highlight was a solo hike out to the Pielpajärvi Wilderness Church (Pielpajärven erämaakirkko). The church dates from 1760 and was in use until the end of the 19th century. Because of the early winter we've had in Lapland, the conditions were pretty great for the hike. Soft light, new-fallen snow, frozen ground, and ice forming on the lakes and streams. I took some pretty good shots, especially around the church and old settlement area as the sun started to break through the cloud. I also spotted a Three-toed woodpecker (pohjantikka) making its winter home. Check out the whole set.

Posted on November 1, 2006 and filed under Finland, North, Photos.

Sun Ring

While walking to the university after lunch on Friday, the sun was surrounded by an amazing corona ring because of the crisp cold air and lots of ice crystals (I think, I'm no meteorologist). It was seriously intense, and even the edge of the ring looked as bright as the sun normally appears in the sky. I managed to snap a few photos with my cameraphone. At least one of them turned out pretty well with the full ring around the sun.

Posted on October 22, 2006 and filed under Finland, Photos.

Champions League goes Russia

Who the hell is picking YLE's Champions League games this year, Vladimir Putin? After being on Nelonen for as long as I can remember, Finland's national broadcaster YLE started broadcasting Champions League games this year. YLE will also broadcast two games some weeks. So we can expect to see the likes of Barcelona, Chelsea, Milan, Real Madrid and Lyon, right? Nope. After starting with a predictably boring 0-0 game between PSV and Liverpool, and tonight's Arsenal-Porto game, we'll be treated to five straight games involving Moscow's two Champions League contenders.

We'll kick things off tomorrow with Spartak-Sporting Lisbon, and we'll see Arsenal again against CSKA on Oct 17. Obviously we'd all rather watch the Spartak-Inter game on Hallowen, instead of the ho-hum Chelsea-Barca game that night. I mean, what have those teams done lately? And it's not like there's a big rivalry between them or anything. YLE will wrap up their 2006 broadcasts with... yes, you guessed it CSKA Moscow v. Porto on 21.11 and Spartak-Bayern the day after. Horosho!

I really don't know what's going on. Either YLE wants to have early broadcasts (all the remaining broadcasted games are played in Moscow), wants to save money sending their broadcast team to the home stadium, or Viasat have preference on Champions League games they broadcast. It might be time to get Viasat, or just watch the Barca matches on PCast.

Posted on September 27, 2006 and filed under Barça, Finland, Football, Television.


Some fellow foreigners in Finland have started a blog called Höpöhöpö, a place for those of us learning Finnish to say hi and try out our emerging language skills. Could the genesis for this have been in a comment Phil left on my site during Language Week? Toiset ulkomaalaiset suomessa on aloittanut uuden blogin Höpöhöpö,missä me suomea oppivia voi piipahtaa ja yrittää meidän tulevaa kielitaitoa. Tuliko sen ajatus Philin kommentista minun blogilla Kieliviikolla?

Posted on September 21, 2006 and filed under Blogging, Finland, Language.

Elisa/Saunalahti 3G in Rovaniemi

Yay. For about six months, I've had an unlimited data plan for only €10/mo. with my operator Saunalahti. It's been great, but would have been greater if they actually had a 3G network in Rovaniemi (for really high speed data transfer). Now, it's reality. I noticed last night that my little 3G icon in my phone was glowing, and sure enough the Elisa network (which Saunalahti uses) has expanded 3G coverage to Rovaniemi. As Teemu says, let the bytes fly!

Posted on September 11, 2006 and filed under Finland, Geek Gear, Mobile.

Etymology of Tuomiokirkko?

While riding in the tourist boat along the Spree past Berlin's domkirche (cathedral), our group had an interesting discussion about the etymological origins of the Finnish word for cathedral, tuomiokirkko. Tuomio literally means 'judgement', so it plays into the whole christian judgement day, doomsday kind of thin g. At the same time, the word is still reminiscent of the German dom and especially Italian duomo. The general opinion held that dom and duomo originate from the Latin domus, 'house', in that a church or cathedral is literally the 'house of God' (Domus Dei). But then how to explain the closeness of German dom and English doom (not to mention the dome on top!) My online research so far hints at a linguistic fusing of two previously separate meanings. Or maybe just a complete coincidence between the similar sounding words in Greek/Latin (domos/domus) for house, and Germainic domaz for judgement. But that's a pretty big coincidence For example, the etymology of doom refers to Old English dom, meaning "law, judgement, condemnation", while the modern sense of "fate, ruin, destruction" emerged only later from the idea of Christian Judgement Day. This in turn points further back to a possible Proto-Germanic origin in domaz. The entry for dome meanwhile claims, "In the Middle Ages, Ger. dom and It. duomo were used for "cathedral" (on the notion of "God's house"), so English began to use this word in the sense "cupola," an architectural feature characteristic of Italian cathedrals."

In my favourite article, Tampere Sanomat's Kysy papilta ("Ask a priest"), priest and Doctor of Theology Matti Repo responds to Jussi's (I trust not our Ängeslevä) query about the origin of tuomiokirkko's sinister-sounding prefix. Alas, Repo rejects the teasing possibility that tuomio refers to the final judgement, and explains that it comes from a rough transliteration of the Swedish domkyrka (same Germanic origins as domkirche back to Latin domus). It is likely that when it was borrowed into Finnish, the spelling tuomio was erroneously used because it sounded like an existing Finnish word (itself likely borrowed from the Old High German tuom assumed it had a connection to God's judgement instead of God's house. English doom would be likewise linguistically unrelated to dome, but conceptually fused together in Christianity.

Can this really be? I'm still not sure I buy the remarkable coincidence. Do any other etymology geeks out there have some better information on the weird echoes contained in tuomiokirkko?

Posted on August 31, 2006 and filed under Finland, Language.

Kieliviikko 2006

language week 2006Taas on Kieliviikko, ja osallistun tänä vuonna ainakin yhdellä viestillä. Viime vuonna aioin kirjoittaa joskus suomeksi. Sen vuoksi, asennoin Stephanie Boothin Basic Bilingual plugin WordPressilla. En kirjoitetaannut niin paljon suomeksi sen jälkeen, ja en käyttänyt pluginia uusilla teemoilla. Ehkä on riittävän vaikea kirjoittaa blogilla omana kielenä. Ehkä parempi vain kirjoittaa suora molemilla kielellä kun yritä käydä monimutkaista pluginia.It is Language Week again and I'm participating again this year, at least with one posting. Last year I intended to blog occasionally in Finnish, so I installed Stephanie Booth's Basic Bilingual plugin in WordPress. I haven't written so much in Finnish since then, and I haven't used the plugin in the newest versions of my design. Maybe it's hard enough to blog even in one's own language. Maybe it's better to just write straight in both languages than try to use some complicated plugin.

Posted on July 25, 2006 and filed under Blogging, Finland, Language.

Prince has roots in Lapland?

According to this morning's Lapin Kansa, the Artist formerly currently known as Prince is one-quarter Finnish, with his grandmother (Hilda Romppainen) coming from the tiny village of Näätämö in Inari, Lapland. Let's go crazy. The article claims that Hilda moved to Minneapolis where she gave birth to a boy believed to be Prince's real father (the article doesn't name him or go into details, but presumably Prince's father wasn't around for parenting duties). There are now plans to invite Prince to Inari to visit his roots. I can't find any other articles on the Net about this yet (Finnish or English), but I'll keep an eye out. In the meantime, here's a scan I made of the article (in Finnish). UPDATE (05.07.06): Lapin Kansa printed a kind of retraction of this story today. It seems the story started as an April fools joke in a Finnish-language newsletter in Minnesota, that was picked up by a local paper (as fact) that was on their email list. Nice fact checking by all involved. :)

Anyway, here's a few links to coverage of this story: PrinceFams HouseQuake Hajanaisia mietteitä PoikaKuoro

Posted on June 29, 2006 and filed under Finland, Web Weirdness.

End of my Rovaniemi Renaissance

So last fall I started experiencing my "Rovaniemi Renaissance" - it seemed that my adopted city was starting to feel fresh and cool again. We finally had a 'real' record store in the centre again (albeit the Free Record Shop chain) where I could browse a rather limited selection of overpriced CDs. A very cool café opened (something that's been at the top of everyone's 'what Rovaniemi is missing' list). Life was good. Now it all seems to be crumbling away. On the same day that I walked through Sampokeskus to notice that they were boxing up the remains of the Free Record Shop, I read that our illustrious town council has decided to rename the main square Lordi Aukio in honour of own hometown Eurovision winners. A clear sign of the apolalypse. How much longer will Kauppayhtiö last in this cultural morass? My Rovaniemi Renaissance has descended back into the Dark Ages. So much for Enlightenment.

UPDATE 02/06/06: Returning to Free Record Shop it seems they haven't, in fact, shut their doors but merely reduced stock to essentially bargain bins and the last pop shmaltz. They might as well have closed.

Posted on June 1, 2006 and filed under Finland, North, Rambling.

Google Maps improving European coverage

Yet another Google story, sorry. It looks like Google Maps is finally upgrading the resolution of satellite photos and adding street maps for some major centres in Europe, which began with the coverage of Torino (Turin) for the Winter Olympics. While Rovaniemi obviously doesn't count as a major European centre yet, there are higher resolution satellite photos and street maps for Jyväskylä (unfortunately covered in snow and cloud) and Savonlinna. The street layer in Finland now includes the highway network, as well as the names of different city neighbourhoods (kaupunginosat). More interesting from an academic perspective, is the resolution upgrades to several key areas of the Kola Peninsula. Last year I put together a Google Maps mashup for students on my annual excursion to the Kola showing points of interest like military installations and heavy industrial pollution. The interesting this is that the new high resolution images are concentrated in military sensitive areas instead of Murmask, by far the region's largest city. Unfortunately these images, too, were taken in winter so have low light, snow and cloud cover. But the area around one of the biggest naval bases (Nerpich’ya, Nerpa and Olenya) near Polyarny is quite clear, with naval vessels and nuclear storage facilities readily visible. But Gremikha is probably the most obvious evidence that these locations were chosen for military purposes (at some point in their history, not necessarily by Google). Thousands of square kilometres of barren Arctic coast and tundra, and there just happens to be several very high-res images of the area around one of the Northern Fleet's biggest nuclear sub bases? Not that I'm complaining. This is way cool.

Posted on April 25, 2006 and filed under Finland, General, Software.

Depeche Mode in Helsinki

The keen-eyed may have spotted my pics from last night's Depeche Mode gig at Helsinki's Hartwall Arena in the Flickr photo badge. Pretty great show from my all-time favourite band. There was a great omen when I looked at my ticket and discovered I was sitting in seat 101 of section 101! How cool is that? They started with many of the tracks from the new album, Playing the Angel, before getting into the real classic crowd pleasers. A personal treat was the first encore, a kinda 'acoustic' version of Shake the Disease with just Martin and a piano-tuned synth. Pity the finnish crowd wasn't really into the whole crowd participation thing. Hope the band understand cultural differences. Hard to believe it was almost 20 years ago when I saw them for the first time.

View the file information

Location : Helsinki
Moblog from my mobile phone

Posted on March 7, 2006 and filed under Finland, Travel, Tunes.

Ikea Haparanda Webcam

ikea haparandaYou can now check the progress of the northernmost Ikea, being built between Haparanda (Swe) and Tornio (Fin) via webcam (login as guest/bygget). The refresh can be set to as fast as 2fps, so you can see cars driving by over in Tornio, and the little crane moving around. After initial plans to open in summer 2006, the current estimate is 'the end of 2006' which may mean as early as October, but probably in time for the Christmas rush anyway. I can imagine the chaos and carnage already.

Posted on January 18, 2006 and filed under Finland, Flat.

Holiday Update

Back 'home' in Finland now after a relaxing but busy time 'home' in Vancouver over the holidays. Didn't get a chance to blog at all, although there was lots of activities that were blog-worthy. Just goes to show, sometimes you should just enjoy life instead of documenting it. But to make up for the silence, here's a brief recap of recent events. I kicked off the trip in style with the opening game of the 2006 World Junior Hockey Championships, between the country of my birth and my adopted home (Canada-Finland, for those who haven't been paying attention). True to my conflicted feelings, I wore my Canada jersey and Suomi pipo (photo to follow).

Nice family Christmas with the folks and my brother Greg. Some good loot from Santa, including much needed outdoor gear (both for the upcoming ski trip, and normal life here in Rovaniemi). Blackberry pie for dessert. Yum, my favourite (thanks mom!)

A quick visit over to Victoria with Greg to visit our cousins Kirk and Todd, and uncle Kim, and their families. Keeping the great month of sport going, my bro took me to a Canucks game with his BMW corporate seats-- Row 2! Thanks, Greg!

The fun and chaos really began when Marjo arrived from Prince George (via Victoria), and Marc, Eva, Pere and Isabel arrived from Barcelona (via Calgary). We enjoyed our favourite all-you-can it sushi experience, before leaving for New Years frivolity in Whistler. After meeting my brother and Stacey, we spent New Years Eve at Tommy Africa's, which was actually a lot of fun, and played great 80s music.

After a needed day of recovery (and shopping) we hit the slopes and enjoyed some great sun and powder.

Capping things off the way they started, Marjo and I managed to score some tickets to the bronze medal game of the Junior Championships between Finland and the USA. Centre ice, row 7 no less! Finland comes from behind to surprise the tournament favourite 4-2. No conflict here, Hyvä Suomi!

After the others left there was barely enough time to visit Kristyn and Christer before packing up for home. Next time hopefully things will be a bit more relaxed and I'll have some more time to visit friends in Vancouver. I can't believe how quickly the time passed, and sorry that I didn't get to see more long lost friends.

More photos from the trip in PhotoSpace.

Posted on January 16, 2006 and filed under Canada, Finland, Travel.

CD Label Printing Service?

Despite being a pretty serious gadget freak, I'm often shockingly behind the times for de rigeur pieces of kit. To wit, I only got my first digital camera two years ago. I only got a DVD drive this year (and I still don't have a DVD burner). The killer is that the last printer I owned was a HP 500C. Now, don't get me wrong, this baby was cutting edge colour technology for like 1990 (my dad is still using it, although he wants me to get him a new one this Christmas). How is it, you ask, that a wired guy like me can have survived for so long without a printer? Most of what I need a printer for is for work (articles, reports, drafts, notes, etc) and maybe a few 'personal' items once in a while pass through the network lasers, but to be honest not really that much. My print demands are pretty low. Those times I've found myself wanting a nice print of a photo I've taken, I've used a photo printing service here in Rovaniemi ( Considering the exploitative pricing of inkjet cartridges, paying 0.20€ for a nice glossy professionally printed photo is a bargain. So really the only printing need I have that is not being met is making CD covers and labels for my mixes for friends.

So why aren't there many services out there that specialize in doing one-off CD covers and labels. It could be a natural extension of existing photo printing services? It's really just another format and paper stock. Users could upload files in common CD label software file formats (Roxio, Acoustica) and receive professional grade covers for their mixes in the mail. It seems such services exist elsewhere, but does anyone know of anyone in Finland who does this? I checked, but they seem to only do commercial CD duplication and production.

Posted on December 20, 2005 and filed under Finland, Geek Gear, Tunes.

Makkara kurssi

A group of us got together last night for a sausage-making course at the Martta organization ("founded in 1899 to promote the quality and standard of life in the home. It also carries out cultural and civic education"). There were ten of us, and five different sausage recipes: American breakfast, Italian fennel, reindeer, mushroom and pork, and Christmas. As I guessed, sausage making is both fun and messy. Although we were using improvised devices like sliced-up plastic ketchup bottles, I'm hoping for something a little more high-tech.

So I'll leave you with a rather flavourful recipe for joulumakkara (Christmas sausage), that is flavoured rather like mulled wine or Christmas cake.

300g laihaa sianlihaa 300g naudanlihaa 300g silavaa 1dl madeiraa 1/2dl konjakkia rohouittua mustapippuria 1/2tl jauhettua neilikkaa 1/2tl jauhettua inkivääriä 1/2 jauhettua kanelia 2dl korintteja suolaa

Posted on December 8, 2005 and filed under Finland, General.