NOTHING LASTS – not even good ideas, nor fine feathered friends. Helsinki recently got stung with a double whammy this spring when all 16 flamingos at the Korkeasaari Zoo met their end in one fell swoop at the teeth of a wild fox, and the city announced that its free-to-use public bicycle programme would be discontinued.

The appearance each year of the green CityBikes was a sure sign that summer was on its way. The concept of a two euro deposit against a spin around town on two wheels seemed like a brilliant idea – both environmentally friendly and convenient. The yearly service had been in operation from May through September since 2000 and was getting rave ...

SIMILAR to Finns, Australians love a good barbeque. Growing up down under, scorching summers each year were synonymous with avoiding venomous creatures lurking in the tall grass and wrapping a burnt sausage inside a piece of white bread and smothering it in tomato sauce.

THAT’S RIGHT – no paper napkin and dollops of Turun sinappi for us; a sausage wasn’t eaten correctly until sauce was running down my wrist and the cocktail of white bread and accompanying lemonade had launched a sugar high that would last way beyond my bedtime.

PASSENGERS appealing against fines issued by travel inspectors seem to have no rights at all. Back in December, I made the mistake of letting my bus ticket expire. It seemed a good idea at the time – I hardly use the buses over Christmas, so I’d decided to load 20 euros onto my card at Pasila and save myself the monthly fee.

I GOT on my train, went to put my absurdly heavy daypack down on a seat, and made my way back to the vestibule to use the ticket scanner. “You’re too late,” I was told by a ticket inspector, who was coming in the other direction. This seemed a bit rich to me, given I had been on the train for all of 30 seconds, and that I had my card in my hand and was approaching the ticket scanner when she first saw me.

WHEN SOMETHING truly original happens in the arts it can have ramifications far and wide. This is especially the case with popular music. When a new sound is recognised, branded and widely embraced, it’s often the catalyst for an entire cultural shift. Unfortunately, music seems to be stuck in an extended period of stagnation.

While there certainly has been a ton of great music made in the last decade, not much of it can rightfully be called original with a capital “O.” No new “movements” have sprung-up lately on a scale to compare with the arrival of such pioneering forms as rock and roll, folk, reggae, punk, rap, world, techno, grunge and ambient. The youth of today are missing out. They are embracing musical and lifestyle ...

SOCIAL DEMOCRAT leader Jutta Urpilainen triggered a storm of controversy recently when she suggested that foreigners moving to Finland should keep in mind the phrase “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.’’

As a foreigner, I really don’t understand much of the anguish at all. To me, the idea that a migrant, much like an air mass, takes on the characteristics of the land over which he or she passes is a basic survival mechanism. We move, we learn languages, we encounter strange belief systems and habits, and we emerge better people for it. We also pay taxes, start businesses, spend money, and on occasions even marry local women. We observe local laws and customs, and do so without compromising our own identity.