Notes on America, from America

About 25 years ago, I was an intern at a Finnish-owned company in Canada, and got to tag along my (Finnish) boss on a trip to the cottage country in northern Ontario. I got to tag along because I was a fellow Finn and almost a part of his family having spent the entire summer under his roof.

He thought it was just a casual gathering, a meet-up with some friends and acquaintances, but then again, he had only been doing business in Canada for less than a year.

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Play Dixie for me

Looking back, it’s always easy to connect the dots and see how one thing led to another. That’s how we take out the randomness and turn in a nice and clean story, because in truth, you never know where the road’s going to take you. You just keep on going, and while you may know where you’re trying to get, sometimes you make a right turn or get off an exit you hadn’t planned on taking, only to find out you ended up exactly where you should.

Both literally and figuratively speaking.

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7 things I learned driving from NYC to Toronto

IMG_22771. When the Hornblower gets to about 20 meters from the Horseshoe Falls, you will get wet, which is fine but the volume of falling water is such that it pushes so much air at you that you may find it hard to breathe. Tell the others in your group the Niagara Falls are, in a word, breathtaking.

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2. Sometimes the thing to do really is the thing to do and that’s why you should eat a bucket of buffalo wings in Buffalo’s Anchor Bar. (Don’t forget to tip).

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3. If you come across a Canadian dude at your local rink, and you see he’s holding a bandy stick instead of a hockey stick, go talk to him and help him find a hockey stick. Give him a ride home. Ask him if he wants to play some more hockey with your team, and if he says yes, pick him up with your car and give him a ride afterwards. You’ll become friends and you’ll go to Cancun together, and you’ll meet up somewhere else, and while you won’t see each other for fifteen years, you’re still the only person in the world to call him “Tiger” and you do stay in touch, and before you know it, you pull up in his driveway in Toronto. You both have nice families, and you barbecue and talk and have a great time and you realize how lucky you are to have (Canadian) friends like that.

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4. The best way to get rid of the habit of checking social media is to drive in North America, and only use the Tim Hortons and Starbucks wifi to get online. In just three days, your mind will come up with other things to keep itself busy. Paying attention to the traffic, for example.

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5. On Toronto’s Harbour Street, there’s the old Toronto Harbor Commission building which in itself may be good to know, but most importantly, try to stay as curious and inquisitive as the 13-year-old boy who points out to you the difference in the spelling of “harbor” on the side of the building and the street sign at the intersection – and also does a Jim Carrey impression.

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6. Even if you ate a bucket of wings in Buffalo, you don’t have to eat a 50-pack of the small donuts the Canadians call Timbits. A 20-pack will do just fine. After all, you didn’t choose the “suicidal” sauce in Buffalo, either.

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7. Canadians still call bathrooms washrooms.

The Coral Island revisited

Just like Son and Daughter, I, too, had a lot of books when I was a kid. When I moved out, the books got to stay on the shelves for a while for the first few summers I returned home, and then they were taken to storage, and then, with a few exceptions, they were gone.

Among the exceptions, there are a few hockey books – biographies of Tretiak, Kharlamov, and Gretzky – the collected fairytales of H.C. Andersen, The Story of Robin Hood by John Finnemore, and The Coral Island by Robert M. Ballantyne.

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The Ghost of Utra

My great-grandmother had always told her daughter that when she died, she’d come back as a ghost, and she’d haunt their home.

“But in a good way,” she’d said, “like a house sitter.”

By the time I was born, my great-grandmother had already passed away but she had, by my grandmother’s account, found her way back into the house. Whenever my grandma couldn’t find her keys, she blamed her mother. When the windows were open when she got home from the store – her mother’s doing. When people were walking their dogs outside her house, and the barked, they could see something not any human couldn’t: her mother.

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School of hockey

Dear class of 2016,

Let me start by saying that it’s a great honor for me to be the one that sends you off to the big, wild world with these few words of wisdom. Sure, it would have been even a bigger honor to get invited to a school to deliver them in person, but hey, it’s 2010, who does anything in person anymore? In fact, send me your phone number and I’ll text the words of wisdom to you. There’s only five of them, six tops. Maybe seven.

But, alas, you’re there and I’m here and we need to get this done.

Good luck, be careful out there

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My big break

People often ask me how come I’m always so happy. Now, nobody’s always happy and I wouldn’t even dream of saying that I’m always happy, but it is true that I often seem to be smiling, even when I’m not. I can say, though, that there hasn’t been a day when I haven’t been smiling going to work, and then I just keep smiling all day long.

I think that helps. It’s hard to be unhappy when you’re smiling.

And it’s hard not to smile when you’re riding a rollercoaster all day long. Literally.

Thanks Flickr

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Dad jokes dadsplained

About 53 percent of searches Americans make for jokes are for light or corny jokes — searches like “fun jokes,” “kids jokes” or “dad jokes.’”
New York Times, May 14, 2016

Hey kids,

Dad jokes are the best, don’tcha think? You know that nothing makes me laugh like dad jokes, because they’re always funny, because dads rock – oh yeah! – and because they’re mine.

But you already know dad jokes are the best, that’s why you spend so much time on Google, searching for dad jokes, and I can only assume that you do it to “snap” them to your buddies. But while Google is fine for basic research, it’s got its limitations so for true understanding of dad jokes you need to get it from dad. And here I am.

How do you come up with your dad jokes, you ask? How can dad always be so funny? What is a great dad joke? Glad you asked. Let me me dadsplain them to you.

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When I’m president

I don’t think I ever wanted to be the president of Finland, and I certainly didn’t know what a president did. Just goes to show that while sixth-graders know a lot of stuff, there’s a lot of stuff they don’t know about the stuff they know. What I did know, though, was that it was the highest praise the school nurse could have given me, and that made me feel good.

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