Winter skies

Written at evening time in English • Tags: , , ,

The days are getting longer in leaps again. It can be unbelievably bright with the reflecting snow doubling up the sunshine. I just had to jump out for a quick walk with the camera when I saw the frosty trees through the window.

It wasn’t quite as sunny in Nuuksio on this Friday, but that didn’t stop us from having a nice walk in the woods and across the ponds. Some of the pictures turned out quite fine.

Thankfully it is too late now for this spring, but I might actually consider getting skis for next winter. Unless I get my head checked and snap out of it… I definitely mean just cross-country skiing, I’m not completely out of my mind yet. :-)

In addition to the new pictures, there’s also an RSS feed for the photo album. I don’t always write in the blog when I add pictures, but the feed will automatically pick them up.

Luminen joulu

Kirjoitettu alkuillasta suomeksi • Tägit: , ,

Joulupäivän aamuna maa löytyi valkoisena, vaikka edellisenä aamuna oli pelottavasti satanut vettä ja räntää. Iltapäivällä sade lakkasi ja kävin vanhempieni kanssa ulkona lumitöissä ja kävelyllä kylän ympäri. Nappailin kävellessä kuvia Vääpelikylästä — lumi korostaa kivasti esimerkiksi naapurin pihassa olevan karhutoteemin piirteitä.

Snowcaps at Kilpisjärvi

Written early in the morning in English • Tags: , ,

The view of the snowcapped fells is absolutely beautiful in the morning sun. I took off the windshield cover before breakfast so we could enjoy the view, even if it meant that the windows will get a bit foggy by the time we were ready to drive. The view is certainly worth the trouble. After breakfast we decided to do some shopping at Kilpisjärvi before continuing on to Norway.

Driving up the Tornio river

Written in the mid-afternoon in English • Tags: , ,

The border between Finland and Sweden is a naturally formed one: it follows the Tornio and Muonio rivers and their feeds. On the drive to Kilpisjärvi there are many beautiful views of the often wide river. Even though there don’t seem to be that many bridges connecting the countries it seems that villages have sprung up on the same spots on both sides. I wonder how it is today: could you just take a row boat across to visit your neighbors on the other bank?

We saw reindeer today! Before I could take a picture they had already run into the birch woods and practically disappeared, as far as a camera is concerned. This is not at all what I remember from 30 years ago about reindeer. Back then I recall they were jogging peacefully on the road in front of our car, or collecting outside our front door in the morning. Speaking of the woods — a lot of green still among the yellows. Maybe we are a bit early still, even though the forecast has already been below freezing a few nights.

The road keeps narrowing the further up we get. In the end they can’t even fit the lane divider in the middle of the road anymore… It’s good that we arrive at Kilpisjärvi early enough before the camping site is closed for the evening. It is just into off-season already, apparently, so some places have already closed for the winter and others have narrowed their operating hours. Something to remember next time, and maybe even plan a little more in advance and check which places are still open.

Lapland tour 2005

Written at evening time in English • Tags: , ,

I have been wanting to go to Lapland to see the autumn colours (ruska) for a few years now, but somehow always managed to put it off due to busy schedules. Last year I decided I would make sure that the trip wouldn’t slip another year anymore, and I stuck to that regardless of everything else going on.

My dad has been hiking in Lapland with my brother a couple of times, so he was immediately into coming with me on the trip. Hiking not being exactly my thing we took advantage of the RV my parents have. We’d be overnighting on camping sites, so we’d have hot water for washing and could refill drinking water easily.

However, the first night dad spotted a nice rest area by the Tornio river before we got to the planned camping site in Ylitornio. Instead of driving on, we decided to stay — it was late enough anyway, as we hadn’t started too early from Kauhava that morning.

Keeping quiet

Written in the mid-afternoon in English • Tags:

I never got that good at small talk, although I think I would have gotten a passing grade already. Well, Therese Catanzariti explains the whole Finnish silence deal on Crikey in another entertaining and insightful article. I will now have to keep my own habits in check, to make sure I pass as a Finn again.

Fortunately I still feel comfortable with silence, but now I wonder if I might be making others uncomfortable by accidentally “switching on” small talk. Apparently I’m already shaking hands more than an average Finn would. Maybe it’s good that I never got a hang of the whole kiss-on-the-cheek custom…

I know I’m already expecting a response to my emails, rather than assuming success from silence. However, I don’t think this really comes from being Finnish, but from the fact that email is no longer a reliable means of communication. There are too many content filters (often disguised as spam prevention tools) that silently drop messages, so some kind of an acknowledgement really is necessary nowadays.

Not a bad map of Finland, but if you are Finnish you’ll probably be laughing even more… :-)

Australian take on Finnish communication

Written at lunch time in English • Tags:

After a dozen years of living in the United States, I can relate to a lot of what Therese Catanzariti writes in her column titled Communication – Finnish style, published on Crikey.

But many of her comments don’t apply just to Finns. From my experience of working in a subsidiary of a German bank, I tell you Germans are a lot like the Finns described in the column. It always drives me nuts when I get asked for the “actual status” of a project. (The reference to Amélie is just perfect!)

I also remember having a visiting professor from France at the University of Delaware. Everyone was complaining how difficult it was to understand her. I had noticed also, but had no trouble — I was using the literal translation approach mentioned in the column, automatically.

I’d warmly recommend a few years of living in a “foreign language” to everyone.

Goodbye to Finland

Written early in the evening in English • Tags: ,

Yet another vacation is over, and I’m returning home. It’s been a relaxing two weeks, even with all the traveling. It has really been great that I had enough time to visit all over Finland (in Helsinki, Ylivieska, Kauhava and Lappeenranta).

Unusually I took a bus from Lappeenranta to Helsinki. I would have taken the train but it turned out that there is track construction going on, so no early trains were running. On the bus I had this woman, Anu, sitting behind me with (as I was to find out) her recently adopted dog. I thought it was overly demanding for the dog to sit so close to other people so I thought I’d let it sniff my hand. Since we were in Eastern Finland, it should be no surprise that a conversation between me and Anu continued until she got off the bus in Porvoo. And we seemed to arrive there in almost no time at all.

Back in Helsinki I had lunch with my friend and business partner Panu. He also qualifies for the “Top 10 People I Don’t See Often Enough” list.

So here I am at the airport hotel, waiting for tomorrow’s flight. As a nice surprise, the hotel has a WLAN for its guests, so I can chat on IRC and IM. However, it is going to be a long day tomorrow with a 5-hour layover at Heathrow, so less chat and more sleep is in order.

By the Saimaa

Written at evening time in English • Tags: ,

On Monday it was off to Lappeenranta. My parents took me here on the RV, and then had some vacation of their own driving back to the west side of Finland. I’ve been staying with my dear friends Hanna-Kaisa and Tapio, whom I haven’t seen in just too long. Hanna-Kaisa took me on the “usual” tour around town, visiting book stores and other places (like the new phenomenon called Lidl). And after a long (or short) day at work, Tapio would be in the kitchen (or by the barbeque) with Hanna-Kaisa, putting their secrets about Italian cuisine to work.

Otto also took me for a quick visit to the university to see a telecomms closet (the home of, no less). It happened that everyone I was planning to visit at the university turned up at that closet. Go figure… it is not next to the cafeteria or anything. Well, that just left more time for a relaxing drive around the nearby islands of lake Saimaa in Otto’s vintage Cadillac. I took some pictures about another ferry being obsoleted by a bridge.

Another frequently visited spot in Lappeenranta is the marina, with its floating beer bars. Lahi took me there — not for a beer, but for ice cream — on one evening. Next time I have to remember to go there for lunch to enjoy a vety (and perhaps a beer).