Friday, January 26, 2007

New links

Note I added some new links to a portal and a discussion forum.

Friday, January 12, 2007


Our dear Helsingin sanomat published a review of a recent book by Jason Lavery: History of Finland Their conclusion: Written from clearly an American vantage point, this is a welcome addition to general presentations of Finnish history.

Inside Finland, the most influential books about history are the books by Väinö Linna:
Unknown Soldier (Tuntematon sotilas) , the realistic war novel about Continuation war. And Under the North Star (Pohjantähden alla) , story of Pentinkulma village from late 19th centrury through civil war. These are books as well known and frequently quoted as Shakespeare and Harry Potter in the English-speaking world; quotes have become proverbs and the characters celebrities and stereotypes, strengthened by filmed versions. So when a Finn says "Thank you so very much, I'll manage with this at least for half a year", there is more in it than the plain words. Unfortunately, the English translations have a bad reputation (are there newer versions ?) . See the movie.

Talking about books: The real Moomin are the thick black-and-white books. These are the guys in Moomin mugs. The pink and lavender Japanese cartoons and soft toys based on them are .. not the real thing.

However, when I bring books from Finland as gifts to foreign kids, I prefer Mauri Kunnas
His Santa Claus book is available in zillion languagaes, and he has made versions of many Finnish classics (Canine Kalevala, Seven brothers) and pieces of history (the Vikings) !

Watching TV

There's surprisingly much TV available - the TV listings site I use has 98 channels.
5 of them are Finnish analog channels (until August 2007, when all Finland goes digi).
Of course, most of them are subscribe-channels, like Canal+, BBC Food or Animal planet.
But I think the stuff available on the 5 basic channels is surprisingly good, if you think it's all prepared for only 5 million potential viewers.

A lot of soaps and films are imported, with subtitles. House and Lost come on Thursdays. We have Emmerdale, Dr.Phil, Conan O'Brian, O.C and CSI . Prison Break (Pako) and 24 (24) are the addictive stuff just now. Here's a list of films on channels 1-4 this week, with links to IMDb.
Reality TV formats are here, Idols just started and Big Brother finished.

There are program slots which have been reserved "forever" (=ever since I was allowed to watch). German "krimi" on channel 2 on Thursdays (Der Alte, Ein Fall fur Zwei, ...) . Nature and science on Channel 1 Saturdays 18:45 (nowadays BBC's Planet Earth). After that non-violent detective series (now Monk). Hospital drama 21:00 Thursday channel 3 (Now House, ).

I think the concept of subtitles (instead of voiceover) is great for Finnish education level. Only shows for pre-school kids come with voiceover. (And nature documents with stunning images, but on Digi you can usually choose between original Attenborough with subtitles, or Finnish voiceover with full pictures). It's a challenge for anyone on first grade to learn to read fast enough to follow the subtitles. And, basically everyone has heard people speaking English, Italian, French and Russian. (This was very annoying with BBC news: they speak over any foreign politicians).

Finland, the country of educated coach potatoes...

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Shop til you drop

Most shops are open weekdays 9-21, Saturdays 9-18.
In summer and 4 weeks before Christmas even Sundays 12-21.
What is open on other Sundays ? Very small grocery shops, kiosks, petrol station shops, and the shopping centre below railway station 12-22.

  • Touristy souvenirs and design kitchenware etc. along Esplanadi.
  • Clothes from Swedish chains and similar (H&M, Kappahl, ... ) along Aleksanterinkatu or in Itäkeskus (by metro).
  • Serious kitchenware in Arabia Factory shop (tram 6)
  • Furniture shops seem to be along Ring road III. Two Ikeas are roughly there (one in Espoo another one in Vantaa), and the rest mailny between these two. Petikko (bus 360, 361) has a bunch (Asko, Isku, Soffatalo, Lundia, Eurokangas...). Lanterna mall between Itäkeskus and Herttoniemi is the easiest place to access without private car.
  • Department stores and shopping malls are nicely listed in Wikitravel