Posts Tagged ‘finn’

If I didn’t know that Finns were good at finding creative solutions to problems, I would think Cara Giaimo was pulling my leg. Belatedly, I give you her Atlas Obscura story about reindeer that glow in the dark.

“If you’re on the lookout for magical reindeer this year, don’t bother gazing skyward — turn your attention to Finland, where local herders are using iridescent antler paint to cut down on deer-car collisions.

“In Finland’s Lapland region, vehicles share space with huge groups of freely roaming reindeer, herded by the Sami people. During the long, dark winter, this coexistence can be dangerous.

” ‘Every year, about 4,000 reindeer are lost on Finnish roads in car accidents,’ explained Juho Tahkola of the Reindeer Herder’s Association in an email. ‘We need to find a way to get these numbers down.’ …

“This year, after spray paint and fur-coating both proved lackluster, they’ve swabbed a test group of antlers with a thick brushing paint.”

More here.

Photo: Reindeer Herders Association
A Finnish reindeer browses “reflectively.” (Wish I could take credit for that bon mot.)

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Bill Littlefield, at Only a Game on WBUR radio, got a lesson in the subtleties of Finnish baseball when he interviewed the Wall Street Journal’s Brian Costa recently. Costa went to Finland to report on pesäpallo, a game whose players are sometimes scouted by US baseball teams.

“Brian Costa: The biggest difference is the pitcher, instead of throwing the ball from a mound at the batter, stands beside him and throws it up in the air and sort of gets out of the way. But there are base paths, there’s four bases, there’s home plate, players field with gloves. …

“Bill Littlefield: Critics of baseball in the U.S. say the games are too long. It’s too slow. There’s not enough action. Would such critics be happier with pesäpallo?

“Brian: Oh, they would love pesäpallo. There are very, very few strikeouts, very few swings and misses, so pretty much every ball that gets pitched gets put into play. …

“Bill: What’s it like for fans attending a game of pesäpallo? And how many are there? Is this a big popular attraction?

“Brian: This is really not a city sport, so [in] Helsinki, you won’t see that much of it. But it is the sport of the Finnish countryside. You’ll have towns where the local population may be 3,000 people, and they’ll get 3,500 at a game. …

“Bill: You note that a scout from the New York Yankees was in Finland last month for All-Star weekend there. … [But] Finnish players, I gather, do not seem very interested in playing baseball as we know it?

“Brian: No they’re not. It’s very interesting. … None of them seemed to really follow Major League Baseball. The people who I asked about their impressions of it kind of smirked or winced or just said, ‘eh.’ I mean, they feel like they’ve got a better version of it.”

More here.

Video: PattijoenUrheilijat

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Here’s a funny lead I got from @smallercitiesu (SmallerCitiesUnite!) on twitter today. It’s about tapping the body heat of cows in India and other poor countries to create electricity. And as you might guess, there are a couple of designing Finns behind it.

Caroline Pham writes at the magazine Good that Finnish design students Liva Kallite and Netta Korhonen created a bovine wearable that could help out some of “the approximately 1.3 billion people around the world who live without electricity. …

“Introducing the Cowolt, a two-piece ‘energy harvesting blanket’ outfitted with thermoelectric modules that essentially harness an animal’s body heat, turning it into charge for batteries. According to CityLab: ‘The difference between the creatures’ internal temperature of about 102 degrees and cooler, ambient air would then create electricity via the Seebeck effect. They estimate a vest could charge a 12-volt battery in 26 hours on the power of one robo-cow.’

“Creators Kallite and Korhonen, both students at the Aalto University School of Arts, Design, and Architecture in Helsinki, point out the deficiencies in alternate means of electricity like kerosene (inefficient, expensive, health risks), solar energy (high maintenance and high up-front costs), diesel power generators (too large scale for personal use), and micro hydro power (negative effects on natural surroundings). Essentially, these aren’t efficient options for those without electricity, and harnessing what these people might have on-hand, like farm animals, is a more realistic mode.

“Who knows whether it will actually catch on, but the hope is that Cowolt would provide enough charge to power smaller devices such as lamps, telephones, and radios, and thus provide those without stable sources of electricity with opportunities to be a little more self-sustaining in their everyday lives.” More here.


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Photo: Milla Kontkanen

Lynley Beckbridge — whose tweets I have been following since a Harvard conference on aging and design — recently tweeted this BBC story about baby boxes in Finland.

Helena Lee writes, “It’s a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it’s designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they’re from, an equal start in life. The maternity package — a gift from the government — is available to all expectant mothers.

“It contains bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress. With the mattress in the bottom, the box becomes a baby’s first bed. Many children, from all social backgrounds, have their first naps within the safety of the box’s four cardboard walls. …

“At 75 years old, the box is now an established part of the Finnish rite of passage towards motherhood, uniting generations of women.

“Reija Klemetti, a 49-year-old from Helsinki, remembers going to the post office to collect a box for one of her six children. …

“Her mother-in-law, aged 78, relied heavily on the box when she had the first of her four children in the 60s. At that point she had little idea what she would need, but it was all provided.

“More recently, Klemetti’s daughter Solja, aged 23, shared the sense of excitement that her mother had once experienced. …

” ‘There was a recent report saying that Finnish mums are the happiest in the world, and the box was one thing that came to my mind. We are very well taken care of,’ says [Titta Vayrynen, a 35-year-old mother with two young boys].

More here. And be sure to see this related story on customs in Nordic countries, “The babies who nap in sub-zero temperatures.”

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Caroline A. and Suzanne met during the senior year of high school, when Caroline left her home in Sweden to spend a semester in the U.S. After graduation, we took Suzanne on a trip to Stockholm. We hit the tourist spots, hung out with Caroline’s family, and helped celebrate her birthday with a pig roast.

Sweden made a big impression on us all, especially Suzanne. Later when she was attending business school in Switzerland, she met Erik, and that was that.

Nowadays I have Swedes as Facebook friends, which forces me to rely a good bit on Google Translate. that can be fun but  puzzling. When Caroline writes —

“Tack så mycket! Nu ska vi bara ta kål på det förbaskade viruset som belägrat min kropp och sen fira lilla mig. :)” —

I can sort of understand Google’s “Thank you very much! Now we just kill the damn virus that besieged my body and then celebrate the little me. :)” — I especially understand the universal emoticon.

With “Finsk midsommarsoppa: häll upp vodka i en blommig sopptallrik,” I barely need Google Translate to tell me it means “Finnish midsummer soup: Pour the vodka into a floral soup plate.”

But more often than not, I find myself skirting the edge of a dark intrigue. Consider “och inte lär de sig. Plattsättaren la ner jobbet direkt då uppdragsgivaren lämnade landet. Nu är det hot som gäller eftersom vädjan inte fungerar,” which means, says Google, “rather, they learn. Flat assembler put down the job immediately when the client left the country. Now is the threat posed by the appeal as not working.” Hmmm. I believe an international crisis is brewing. Hard to say where, though.

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