My voluntary educamational work for Finland

Almost missed writing the previous post, thanks to getting caught up informing a Chinese exchange student for a few hours.

With the help of a laptop, and Google, Wikipedia and Youtube, I gave him a looong, question-filled and questionable lecture, including these subjects and some more:

  • where Santa Claus really lives (Korvatunturi, if you ask a Finn, and they should know because this is where he lives)
  • why the North Pole is a stupid, ludicrous, ridiculous, moronic, idiotic place for anyone to live
  • where you can meet Santa (or in Finnish, Joulupukki): Rovaniemi, that being a city and not a zone of the Fenno-Russian border (“Hands up fatty! You, dressed in red! Tero, see if he has weapons in the bag! No false moves or the reindeer gets it, big guy! You have no business being in the border zone!”, the Finnish border guard macholy spat), and being closer to an actual tourist-capable airport — hence, the Rovaniemi Santaland Amusement Attractions
  • the international vs. Finnish Santa Claus, and whether Santa’s helpers are young guys in green (an American “elf”), or grumpy dwarf-like bearded guys in red (a Finnish tonttu or gnome)
  • the origins of various Santas in a mixture of pagan traditions, Saint Nicholas, Finnish mythology, and the Coca-Cola Company
  • Finnish surnames like Virolainen, Ruotsalainen and Venäläinen (“Estonian”, “Swede”, “Russian”), and the unlikelihood of a Chinese guy having a surname meaning “Indian” or “Vietnamese”
  • the surname ending “-nen”, and whether it is a diminutive like Wikipedia says or means “a person related to the thing before this suffix, by being a descendant, an inhabitant or something else” like I say
  • very long Finnish words and their deconstruction; the difference between agglutinative and isolating languages and whether a certain kind of Finnish military aircraft assistant mechanic sub-officer students really have a sixty-some letter title
  • moose meat and where to find it
  • hunting permits and licenses to kill various restricted species; hunters’ clubs (metsästysseura) and the unspeakable deliciosity of bear stew
  • why a Google image moose is saying “Sarah Palin don’t shoot me”, and why she’s the only politician likely to be thus feared by frosty quadrupeds
  • animals likely to be seen waiting for the bus (and who’s the one waiting for the bus): rabbits, squirrels, and bigger beasties
  • animal tracks in the snow and how to identify them
  • the shared ancestry of dogs and wolves and the resulting difficulty for a layman of distinguishing their tracks (it’s a dog, don’t worry, just don’t go outside…)
  • the fact that “Karhu” is a Finnish beer brand in addition to being the word for a bear; and the possibility that this is a coincidence and not an infernally subtle bilingual pun of some kind, the Finnish word for beer (olut) being nothing like the bear word (karhu)
  • the fact that an entire Finnish province, Karjala (Karelia), has had its named co-opted by another beer brand
  • the Karelian coat of arms, which has a West-armored hand clashing a sword against an East-armored hand’s saber; the geopolitical realities inherent in this
  • all the various traditional Finnish Christmas foods (ham; rutabaga and potato casseroles; lutefisk (for some people, not including me and everyone I know); and Christmas pastries (joulutorttu), which are the best thing in all the world); the tendency of this being all the family’ll eat for a few days because there’s a metric buttload ton of it
  • standard Finnish and Finnish dialects and the benevolent co-existence of them
  • Finnish Christmas songs as played by Finnish heavy metal bands
  • Finnish heavy metal bands and the general philosophy of heavy metal (“ridiculously, consciously over the top but still serious; inducing the laughter of ecstatic approval, but not the cackle of mockery”), using as sonic illustration Youtube clips of:

And Stratovarius was the point where his cranial vessel was filled with the righteous nectar of Finnish heavy metal consciousness, and he politely called it quits.

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