Archive for October, 2007

Teenage culture in Finland has truly embraced everything Japanese. Whenever I’m in central Helsinki I see these 14 year old Lolita girls dressed up like French maids and on the bus everyone younger than 18 is reading Manga (although I’ve heard that Korean comics are becoming more and more popular in Finland).

In today’s newspaper there was an article about a group of girls (the youngest only 12) that had been queuing for three whole days, sleeping on the street, to get tickets to see the GazettE – a Japanese band.

I became fascinated by this and found some videos on youtube of Gazette and some pictures of the Lolita girls (and some very Japanese ones) from a comic festival held in Tampere.

japgirl1.jpg    japgirl2.jpg    japgirl3.jpg

I don’t know why Finns are so prone to developing sub-cultures. Maybe we are such introvert people that the only way we’re  really able to express our feelings is through some kind of role play. Another example of this is the thriving Goth movement,  but nowadays I don’t know if they are Goth or if they too are under some weird Japanese influence…


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It’s so easy to think of people as being all alike. Then we can judge them according to our old presumptions and believes. We can look at ourselves and think that yes, for sure the other person feels what I’m feeling and sees what I’m seeing. My boss has drastically changed my view on human kind. One example:

Evely, who just started working for us this fall, asked me if we could take the 27th and 28th of December off since we would get one whole week’s vacation by doing so. I told her that my plan was to take a two week long vacation during Christmas, since I’d only got one week off this summer, and also because of my cousins wedding on the 5th of January. So she said she would ask our boss if she too could take two more days off as she would be in Estonia and thought it unnecessary to travel back and forth for only two days of work.

I told her the truth; she should not ask Osamu, she should just tell him the length of her holidays. She got all red and I could tell that this was against all her principles. Not to ask her boss for permission was not the right way to go. But I stood by my opinion and soon got two of my other colleagues to agree with me; she should not consult Osamu but just tell him of her plans.

This is because of the total lack of understanding my boss has of holidays. It’s not just that he thinks everyone should be working hard, doing overtime, working during the weekend and so on. No this is about him not understanding what a holiday is. He doesn’t get the concept. That we in Finland have days that are, by law, said to be holidays. He doesn’t comprehend this. If we would ask him for more days off he would look at us as if we were speaking in a totally different language.

The same thing happens if we say that we have been working overtime that week and therefore will go home a bit earlier on Friday. He doesn’t understand. He becomes a living question mark, mouth open, head slightly tilted. No, he just…

It’s not that he would disapprove. He just…

So our tactic has become to just tell him. “I’ll take two weeks off”. This way he can either nod his head or shake it, instead of him having to decide on exact dates and times for our vacation. Because this he is incapable of.

And my point is. We think that people are all alike. My boss should be able to see things the way I see them. This is not advanced calculus. It’s easy. But he is different, and we should learn to treat him that way. You cannot treat all the same.

It’s probably a cultural thing. He is Japanese and as such should have a different concept of work hours and holidays. And culture is often thought of as something built by a society. But is it really? Nowadays I see culture as something very individual. An interpretation of a society, rather than a direct cause of one.


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I’ve been kind of busy lately and I’m afraid my blogging has suffered a bit. We’ve had the annual Action conference at my church and this year I was named head coordinator of the whole thing. So from last Thursday to Sunday I slept a total of 17 hours and, when awake, ran around like a scalded rat (as we say in Swedish). But it was so much fun! And I learned a lot. For example, that I actually do cope well in stressful situations. And I also came to realize how many wonderful, talented people we have in our church. So, in the spirit of the Chief of police in the “police academy” movies I just want to give you “many, many wonderful people, that did so many, many fantastic things at the many, many wonderful events we had; many, many thanks!”

Here are two pictures from Friday evening when we had Ian and Lucy Fisher from Australian Hillsong visiting. There were approximately 650 people in the church – we didn’t even have enough chairs for everyone! 

hillsong1.jpg     hillsong2.jpg

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It’s in the news

I get a newspaper every morning around 6am, and I’ve become quite dependant on it. If there’s a day when the mailman delivers it too late for me to bring it to work I feel somewhat lost, this since I don’t watch the news on TV but rely solely on my paper to tell me what’s been going on in the world.

Zhao thinks it amusing to look through it once in a while at work. Swedish is a lot like English so he is actually able to understand some things! One day he saw the picture of the Burmese monks and asked me what the story was about. I told him about the crises in Burma – Myanmar as he calls it, and he was baffled. The newspaper he usually reads is a Chinese web based one, and there had been no mention what so ever of the upraise in Burma.

I was again chocked at how different the message can be that reach us. Even though Zhao is living in Finland he had heard nothing of this world-known event. Now I try to tell him everything that’s said of China in my newspaper. Today it was of how they try to suppress the people opposing the leading party. Well, as I guess most of what’s said about China these days is negative, I think he is getting a little bit annoyed at me.

But, and this is just my own opinion, as long as China is moving forward economically I don’t think the Chinese will ask for the faults in their country’s system. Why would they?

One’s nationalism usually gets stronger as one leave home and move to another country and that’s why I don’t think Zhao takes the Finnish news’ criticism that seriously. But I just want him to know…

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A test of character

As the world isn’t all black and white I suggest we get rid of the old “half full half empty glass” question. I have, of course, come up with a much better alternative. When standing in line to buy my groceries my incomparable intellect came up with this brilliant questionnaire:

Say that you are buying a carton of eggs. When you get to the counter the salesperson informs you that one of the eggs is broken. What is your first reaction? Ok, no peeking now, you should make up your mind before looking at the alternatives.

1. You get seriously angry. How can the shop sell these kinds of egg? Aren’t they checking them before placing them on the shelves? And now I have to go all the way to the back of the store to get new ones!

2. You get embarrassed. How could you not have noticed that one of the eggs was broken? And now the people standing behind you in line have to wait while you go get new ones!

3. You become happy. What a wonderful salesperson that actually takes the time to inform you that one of the eggs was broken. And now you can go and get new eggs. This must be your lucky day!

That was it folks. And since the world isn’t black and white you can even choose all of the above.        


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Feeling pretty warm


I am one step closer to becoming a true athlete: I’ve bought a cap/hat or whatever it’s called in English. The point is that this “thing” will give me the opportunity to run even when it’s below zero degrees Celsius!

All I need now are the supporting stockings Anna-Karin recommended, to keep my butt from wobbling…


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Different perspective

In Finland they call it a handicap – diabetes. I recently joined the Find a Cure for Juvenile Diabetes on Facebook and found this encouraging text:

Every hour of every day, someone is diagnosed with juvenile (type 1) diabetes, the most severe form of a disease that annually accounts for almost $100 billion in health care costs in the U.S. alone. Usually striking before the age of 30, juvenile diabetes takes a harsh toll on people. Not only will they be insulin-dependent for life, but devastating life-limiting and life-shortening complications such as blindness, amputation, heart disease and stroke, and kidney failure are an ever-present threat. Insulin is not a cure for the disease—it is merely life support.

Juvenile diabetes is destructive both to children and to childhood. Controlling the disease requires 24/7/365 vigilance and imposes a grueling regimen. It includes eating a carefully calculated diet, checking blood glucose levels several times each day (by lancing a finger) and insulin injections — as many as six per day — or delivery of insulin through a pump just to stay alive. It means children and families living by the clock, day and night, for the rest of their lives—lives that turn out to average about 15 years less than normal.

Hmmm, so I guess this must be true, but I just don’t feel it myself. Grueling regiment, living by the clock, the horrors of having to inject insulin. The only reason I joined the group was because of my doctor’s appointment this Monday. Otherwise I would not have given it a thought. I don’t even consider myself as a diabetic. Someone would probably call that living in denial but really, if someone would ask who I am the words Christian, Finn-Swede and Scientist would be much higher on my list than Diabetic. I tend to forget my disease in all other cases than those involving food and sports. Of course I think of it all the time, but when I can control my values it’s not that big a deal.

But one thing that came up on the Facebook forum was true, and scary. Diabetes has become such a lucrative business that no-one wants to find a cure for it anymore – they are just looking for better ways of injecting the insulin or, of course, better insulin. And if you knew what I know about stem cell research you would not be hoping to get a new pancreas during your lifetime.

Well it just remains to see whether I’ll live 15 years less than I would have or if the way I’ve changed my life since I got diabetes – eating healthier and exercising more regularly – will give me those 15 years back…


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