Anyway, enough already... Here's the stuff to read:
Finland, or Suomi to the Fins, is the right-hand side of Scandanavia, squeezed between Sweden (and a bit of Norway) and Russia. Nearly a third of the country is within the Arctic Circle, an area known as Lapland (Samiland). The home of Lordi is a place called Rovaniemi which is two thirds of the way up. It is also supposedly the home of Santa Claus (when he's not at work up the North Pole).
The language, should you wish to visit, is obviously Finnish. Some speak Swedish. The Samis speak Sami, which is a version of Finnish.
Finnish itself is classed as an Finno-Ugric language, with the "Finno" part covering Finnish and Estonian, and the "Ugric" part covering Hungarian (Magyar). A related language is spoken in parts of Siberia.
Finnish is not related to Swedish, which is a Germanic language, akin to Norwegian, Icelandic, and of course our very own English.
A visit to a European chain such as Lidl should produce food packets written in a variety of languages allowing you to compare words for such exciting delicacies as "durum wheat semolina" in Swedish, English, and Finnish (not to mention others).
I feel cold just looking at my map! In actual fact, the climate along the south is around +16°C in the summer and -6°C in the winter, which is less harsh than might be expected given its location. Helsinki, as a port, is usually icebound from January to May except for a lane kept open by icebreaker. Well, maybe not this year, if the weather records are to be believed...
The country has a few lakes. Conservative estimates put the figure at around 60,000. Sticking out to the south-west of the country is Ahvenanmaa archipelago which is comprised of some 6,500 little islands. They do things on a size, don't they?
Huge swathes of the country (some three-quarters) are forested. It isn't difficult to create renewable forests so we can enjoy real Christmas trees instead of those not-quite-right-yet plastic efforts.
Finland is one of Europe's least densely populated places. The population of the entirety of Finland (to a 1995 estimate) is actually about half of the 10-12 million living within the Paris metropolitan area; slightly more than Berlin's four million, and a few less than London (and borough)'s almost-eight-million. For non-European readers: New York City's population is around seven and a half million, while the Tokyo metropolitan prefecture (Tokyo-to) is on par with the Paris metropolitan area. No matter how many numbers we fling around, the fact of the matter is the Finland occupies an area of 130,559 square miles (338,145 square kilometres), and there's practically nobody there!
The population of Helsinki (1995 estimate again) is a tad over half a million.
The Finns like books. Helsinki City Library has more books than there are people in the city. Almost four times more. I guess the average GCSE level British teenager will feel right out of place here, given that an astonishing number seem to leave school functionally illiterate. But hey, Britain doesn't need smart people, Britain needs people that won't ask awkward questions when the government wishes to apply severe taxation for short-hop air travel "to help fight global warming", while planning extra runways at major airports. Clever people would ask questions. Savants wouldn't. Read "1984" some time, it's a refresher course on the Blairite legacy...
Anyway, a Finnish invention everybody ought to know of is the sauna. A steamy sort of relaxation bath achieved by pouring water over hot rocks.
While wood and paper pulp is an important industry in the country, so to is electronics. Is it pure coincidence that in the south of the country is a town called Nokia?
Helsinki held the Olympic Games in 1952. And the Eurovision Song Contest in 2007.
The main computer is a 466MHz Celeron Acer Travelmate (64Mb, Windows 98SE). A bundled version of ULead's PhotoImpact5 was used to trim the pictures to remove letterboxing black bars, and also save with the best trade-offs between file size and image quality (usually ~85%, no (4:4:4) subsampling). For ease of manipulation on older RISC OS systems, the "progressive JPEG" format is not used.
These HTML documents were written by hand using LiquidNinja's Metapad. This is a Notepad replacement that looks and acts like Notepad, only it is a lot more capable and powerful.
For actual reception, the contests were received using a Silvercrest SL65 digital satellite receiver. Everything else was received using a Pace BSkyB 2500B SkyDigibox. The reason for this is that the SL65 offers a better tuner (which won't flake out for no reason), and also - according to my mother - a better quality picture. It looks much the same to me!
I had purchased an AverTV USB digitiser, it claimed to be able to do half-frames over USB1.1, which is fine. Unfortunately the driver took one look at my computer (Win98SE, 466MHz Pentium, 64Mb) and said "don't make me laugh!". So this, I'm afraid, will have to wait a while, until I can afford a better spec computer. Try me again in 2010! ☺
[donations welcome, company castoffs are probably higher spec than this hardware! email me!]