Eric Back on March 1st, 2013

Yes! The Days Are Getting Longer.

A couple of weeks ago it turned out that staff were over-booked at the hospital. No one was keen on taking the day off so I volunteered. On my way back to my car I snapped this gorgeous sunrise over downtown Edmonton. It was about 7:20 am – the days are getting longer.

My mother used to point out to me the summer and winter solstices each year and I can see how those annual markers would mean so much to northern dwellers. The incremental changes in daylight hours were notable growing up in the lower mainland of BC, but hardly noteworthy while living in Arizona. Here in Edmonton, Alberta the change in daylight hours is dramatic and I can only imagine how much more so in Kronoby, Finland where my parents grew up. I do remember spending one summer there where at the end of June it seemed that the sun never set.

”The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises.”
Ecclesiastes 1:3

Eric Back on November 26th, 2010
American thanksgiving is a huge event, and runs together, paradoxically, into black Friday. The traditions of the gathering of family, the shared meal, and the religious overtones, mix and mingle with the parade, non-stop football, scrutiny of print and online ads for high-demand, limited quantity, loss-leaders, and airport X-rays (maybe the x-rays would become more accepted if people could take copies of dental films with them after passing through the scanner–everyone likes to save money!).

As Canadian Americans, US thanksgiving has become a meaningful day for us, different than the Canadian version, but a meaningful addition to the annual calendar. This year we had two thanksgivings. I really enjoyed the laid-back Canadian version we had in Edmonton with my wife’s parents. The additional American elements are present in the Canadian version of the holiday, they’re just more subtle.

Eric Back on June 4th, 2010

From the Oath Ceremony in Phoenix

I first applied for permanent residency in 2003 through my employer and became a permanent resident in 2005 along with my immediate family members.  In January I applied for citizenship and today I was sworn in with 98 others from around the world at an oath ceremony in Phoenix.  It was a moving ceremony in many respects with elements of solemnity, exhortation, and celebration.  Several new Americans spoke including an Iraqi Priest who expressed thanks for religious freedom, a Mexican woman who found speaking at all a challenge because of her strong emotions relating to her joy at being granted US citizenship, and a Romanian woman who expressed profound gratitude in simple words and strong emotions.  As for me, I’m very glad to have been granted full rights of participation in American society and I look forward to making a positive contribution in whatever way or ways that I am able.

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Eric Back on June 2nd, 2010

My family moved to the Phoenix, Arizona area in July of 1997.  Since then we have become permanent residents with the help of Banner Health, my employer since 2000.  My eldest son, and my wife recently became US citizens and this Friday, June 4th I’ll be appearing at the Phoenix USCIS center for my oath ceremony.

So why did I decide to apply for US citizenship?  I think the decisive factor for me was the fact that having been raised in the USA, most, if not all of children will be making their permanent homes here.  Should I one day return to live in Canada, I’d like to know that I could come back to the USA and both work and live here for as long as I wished.

Eric Back on July 21st, 2009

I came across this story via ”Finland Live.” This new trail winds for 35 km through the boreal forests of northern Finland and Norway.  A complete description of this trail and others can be found in English at ””  One fascinating aspect of hiking in Finland is ”everyman’s right,” which allows passage through all property and forests providing that one avoids the immediate property surrounding a private residence.

Pillola Trail

”The Piilola Trail, which connects the Vätsäri Wilderness Area in Finland and the Øvre Pasvik National Park in Norway, was inaugurated on 16 June 2009 at its northern starting point of Sortbrysttjern in Norway. An opening hike began at the same time, ending on 18 June at the end of Kessintie Road and the village of Nellim, where the closing ceremony of the hike was held. Some two dozen hiking and nature lovers from Norway and Finland took part in the opening hike. The Piilola Trail is the result of cooperation between the parties to the Pasvik-Inari Trilateral Park: Finland, Norway and Russia.”

Pillola Trail 2

Eric Back on July 11th, 2009

Here is a piece by Finnish Poet Risto Rasa

For more of his work visit his Finnish Poets page

You may also find contemporary Finnish poetry with translations into multiple languages at Electric Verses

Koira tulee illalla
Kun se kiertyy paikalleen
ja nukahtaa,
alkaa sen sydänlämpö levitä

- Risto Rasa -

In the evening, the dog comes
When he curls up in his spot
And falls asleep,
His heart’s-warmth starts spreading
Into the rooms.

- Risto Rasa -

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Eric Back on July 6th, 2009


Demonstrating an amazing facility for doublespeak, Sarah Palin resigned as Governor of Alaska late Friday afternoon.  Citing the mounting expenses and divided focus that has come from constantly defending her honor and family, she did not want to finish her term as a lame duck, she said.   Her rambling speech offered little more in the way of explanation but since that announcement several speculative articles have been published in small time blogs and in establishment media alleging that an investigation may soon be under way concerning diversion of building materials and labor in the construction of the Palins’s 3500 square foot home that was constructed at the same time and of the same materials as the Wasilla arena.  On the 4th of July Palin struck back with threats of legal action and since then the FBI has announced that Palin is not under investigation.

Margaret Carlson at commented, ”There comes a point when not practicing politics as usual becomes so unusual it borders on the bizarre.”

Still, political notoriety has its perks. It seems that in leaving office she will be walking into both a book contract with Harper Collins, and possibly a hosting deal for a television program.

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Eric Back on May 16th, 2009

I’ve been working part time on an MBA through Colorado State University and finally graduated yesterday. The program is a part time program that integrates evening students in Fort Collins with distance students via a web interface. Distance students receive lectures via DVD within a week after the onsite lecture. Lectures are also available the next day online. The program is AACSB accredited.I feel very pleased and relieved to be done. Keep at it those of you are working on this.

If you are looking for a program, check out Colorado State:

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Eric Back on May 11th, 2009

A poster named drummerac may be on to something.


On the Finland-Live site he posted evidence of a possible conspiracy for world domination.  Be forewarned!

The Finns have:
attacked Russia twice,
Germany once,
themselves once,
Are the Finns bent on world domination?

They export, ships, elevators, mobile phone technology, and networking solutions, and once every year their top agent dressed in a red outfit and disguised by a white beard creeps into our homes leaving ”gifts”.

Is this a ploy to infiltrate our homes and businesses with Finnish technology in preparation for the ”New Finnish World Order”?

So next time you get stuck in an elevator, your mobile phone crashes, or your signal drops and internet access disappears…..

remember to be prepared, The days of eating salmiakki and pea soup are drawing near.

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Eric Back on February 12th, 2009


Today marks the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin.  There is even a website devoted to the 200th anniversary marking the birth of this distinguished naturalist: Darwin

Fox News mentions Gallup and Pew polls which show that fewer than 4 in 10 Americans believe that evolution is factual (Fox News article). The Gallup poll found a significant link between understanding of evolution and education, ”Just 21 percent of respondents who had up to a high school level of education believe in evolution, compared with 74 percent of those with postgraduate degrees.” It is a little surprisingly that only 74% of those holding post grad degrees accept evolution as fact. ”Among weekly churchgoers, only 24 percent said they believe in evolution, while 41 percent do not and 35 percent have no opinion.” Fox News also offers several links to evolutionary articles and hosts it’s own online center.

Missing Links

Fox News Evolutionary and Paleontology Center

Celebrations today in Britain include exhibitions of artifacts, tours, and, at the Bristol Zoo if you visit wearing a real or fake beard (certainly non sexist), you get in for free (Bristol Zoo). Quoted from an article on the Bristol Zoo site, ”Simon Garrett, Head of Learning at Bristol Zoo Gardens, said: “Darwin is now a household name and, over the last 150 years, his ideas have revolutionised our understanding of nature and our place within it. Bristol Zoo’s ‘beard day’ is a fun way of commemorating Darwin’s life and work while allowing visitors to find out more about his theories.” ” ”Among the biggest celebrations is at the Natural History Museum in London which is putting on films, talks and pea soup, cooked to the recipe of Darwin’s wife, Emma.” And, at 5:45 pm today there will be a wreath-laying ceremony at Darwin’s grave in Westminster Abbey.

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