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 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 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

I came across this enews snippet announcing a new medieval manuscripts network.

”Researchers create vast virtual library of medieval manuscripts”

”Somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 rare and precious medieval manuscripts have been scanned over the past decade into formats that could be studied over the Internet.”

Definitely interesting for even casual readers.  Perusing the English manuscripts for example I came across 15th century recipes for wild game as well as cures and treatments for the plague.  In times like these one can never be sure when she might need both!

The network is the creation of researchers at UCLA!

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YLE reports that despite the economic downturn in Finland, those who retain their jobs can expect to see an increase in real income of 4.6% this year.  By contrast, last year’s increase was 1.5%.

Quoting the Taxpayer’ Association, YLE notes that ”The group attributes the improvement to slowing inflation and tax cuts. This year earned-income taxes are to be lowered overall to the tune of 870 million euros. The government — under the lead of conservative Finance Minister Jyrki Katainen — has also removed some tax penalties for raising one’s earned income”

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Eric Back on October 13th, 2008


Former Finnish president (1994) Martti Ahtisaari was recognized by the Nobel Committee for his success in brokering deals as a United Nations envoy.  He was cited for his work in helping Namibia achieve independence from South Africa, for ending the 3 decade long conflict between the Aceh movement and Indonesia, and for negotiating the end of the 1999 Nato air campaign in Kosovo.  His work in Kosovo became the blueprint for the new Kosovo constitution.  He has also been involved in mediation in Iraq, Northern Ireland, Central Asia, and the Horn of Africa.

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Eric Back on September 14th, 2008


So, with so many of the Palin/McCain statements proving flagrantly untrue, can you really see Russia from Alaska?

1) No: The Bering Strait is 53 miles across, which means you can’t see Russia across it because of the curvature of the earth.

2) Yes: ”and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska.” — Sarah Palin

3) Maybe (on a technicality): A Yahoo Answer Poster said, ”Actually, the answer is yes and no. From the mainland, there is no way to see Russia from Alaska. The distance is too great.

However, there are two islands in the Bering Staight – Big Diomede and Little Diomede. The big island is Russian and the small one American. They are 1.5 miles from each other. Interestingly, the International Date Line separates the two, so there is a time difference of 23 hours between the two.”

And finally, for fun, catch Tina Fey’s SNL impression of Sarah Palin here…

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