Mar 18, '14 : Tommy's mistake

“Hey, Jack,” said the young man with the aviator glasses.

“Hey, Tommy,” replied the man named Jack. He was sitting at a small round coffee table, with a paper cup and a newspaper in front of him.

Neither one said anything for a while as Tommy poured himself a cup of coffee, and then some milk, and sat down at the table.

Jack turned the page, then another, and when he finally had read the newspaper, he folded it up and threw it back on the table.

They sat at the table silent.

Then Tommy slammed his clipboard on the table.

“Here they are,” he said with a big grin on his face.

“Who’s here?” said Jack, and then barked:

“What are you doing here, Tommy?”

You can check out but you can never leave.

» Continued

Oct 22, '12 : Blades of steel

He said he didn’t kick the guy, and I believe him. He didn’t just say it, he screamed it, he yelled, he cried it out so the words echoed in the cold, cold rink. He was sitting on the plank that was also the stands, just seconds after the ref had thrown him out of the game, and he was just beside himself. He was so sad and so angry that he was almost delirious, it seemed.

“I didn’t kick him. I DIDN’T KICK HIM,” he yelled again.

Not this guy.

» Continued

Oct 04, '12 : The Jerk

The outdoor skating arena looked pretty much the same it always did. It wasn’t really a rink, not a hockey rink, anyway, because it was huge. On a good day, there’d be six or seven pickup hockey games going on at the same time, and half of the bandy arena was still available for people who just wanted to skate.

On one crisp December morning, though, there were no pickup games going on, because, well, it was cold and because the kids were supposed to be at school. The ice was clean and shiny under the lights that swayed a little in the wind.

I climbed up the stands, all the way to the top, and looked out to the arena. I saw just one boy skating out there.

All alone.

» Continued

Sep 29, '12 : Behind the glass

“Hey, Timmy, do you even have a father,” somebody yelled from across the dressing room.

Timmy didn’t say anything, he just kept on adjusting his pads, as if he hadn’t heard anything. The question was repeated at least once, but when Timmy just got up and pulled up his hockey pants, and put on his sweater, the others lost interest. Somebody turned up the music.

“Born to run” was blasting off the stereo. It was a mixed tape, a pre-game tape, and it was time for Born to Run. Then it was time for “Highway to Hell”, and then, against all odds, “Against All Odds”.

Timmy got it before every game, which is why at this point in the season, in January, he didn’t care anymore. It was almost as much a part of our pre-game routine as the mixed tape was. It had been a little touchy issue at first, though, because his dad was never at the rink.

Just a guy.

» Continued

Jul 19, '12 : Suddenly

I saw the two women riding their bikes towards me as I walked up the hill. As they got closer, I smiled a little, because that’s what you do, especially when you’re on a campus. You’re a part of the team. You may not know everybody personally, but you know somebody who knows somebody who knows them.

Just as they were about to pass me, the following three things went through my head:

Easy there.

» Continued

Apr 26, '11 : The art of losing things

I keep losing things. I’ve always been one of those people that are always looking for their keys, their wallet, their pens, watches, or a magazine they just had in their hand but now seem to have misplaced somewhere.

As a kid, I had the home key in a hockey skate lace around my neck, and still managed to leave it at home often enough to become friends with the scary Mrs Hellgren who had the master key. Once I lost my wallet at my uncle’s place, must have dropped it on their yard somewhere, and the entire family with my cousins and aunts and uncles had to come out and look for it. After hours of search, we gave up, but the next morning, my aunt found it in a bush. How it had gotten there, I have no idea.

Can you see a key anywhere?

» Continued

Mar 03, '11 : Razzle dazzle this

“Sir?” said the man.

I laughed. “Sir?” I repeated, looking at my wife, and lifted my old Oakland A’s hat, as if it were a top hat. A move straight out of an old movie. She laughed, too. And when she laughed, I laughed, because she was my wife, and we had been married for just 22 hours.

What happens in Vegas, happens in Vegas.

» Continued

The other day, a friend of mine laughed when he told me about a hockey player who wore number 99. He thought it was sacrilege. Since nobody can be Gretzky, nobody anywhere should wear that number, he said.

Wear it proud.

» Continued

Nov 02, '10 : Play well

Dad was proud. He was beaming in the back, but I knew he really wanted to rush to the front, get on the stage and tell the world I was his son. And, it’s not that he was afraid to do that, it’s just that he didn’t enjoy that kind of attention. I knew that he knew that I knew, if you know what I mean.

Now, had I shat in my pants during my show, had I lost a brick or something, I know he would have been the first one up there to help me, and he would have completely ignored the rest of the world. That’s what Dads do, I suppose.

This is not me.

» Continued

Sep 19, '10 : Spot

“Quick, quick,” Wife yelled, opening the front door for me. I grabbed my iPod off the kitchen counter and ran outside.

“Go get ‘em,” I heard her shout behind me, but by then, I was already a good 30 meters outside the house, running towards the garage, adjusting my black leather bag that kept hitting me in the rear end. Our car was parked outside the garage complex, where eight families kept their cars mostly second cars, parked. Most of the tiny garages were used as storage space and so filled with junk that the cars were always outside.

Ours, too.

I jumped inside - I had already parked it so that I could just get in and drive - and made a quick left, then another quick left, then a quick U-turn and then an even quicker parallel parking trick, to claim the only empty spot on the street – right outside our house.

I saw Wife standing by the window, giving me a thumbs-up. I smiled back, and flashed the famous Churchillian victory sign. When I got back in, we high-fived each other.

Well, he can have THAT one. Today.

» Continued

Jun 18, '10 : A backstory

In hindsight, it was obvious. The unwillingness to admit a mistake and the bossy attitude were there. He even had that certain look, that posture, the quick step in his walk, and the majestic jaw - a “Disney jaw” his old school nurse had called it, the same one who always said he’d grow up to be Somebody.


» Continued

Mar 17, '10 : An exercise

"I have a little game I play in my head. Often when I’ve pitched a project or sent a job application, or something similar, I got to the gym to work all the anxieties out of my body. I send my thoughts, all my stuff into the ether, then pull back and let the universe work its magic on me."

It could have been a dark and stormy night.

» Continued

Dec 15, '09 : Scotch on the rocks

Specialists from New Zealand plan to recover two crates of Scotch whisky left more than 100 years ago by the polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and trapped deep in Antarctic ice.
New York Times, November 17, 2009
Ladies and gentlemen,

Well, who am I kidding? “Ladies”? Good one. Gentlemen, welcome to the New Zealand Explorers’ Club. It is that time of the month again, and I am happy to see so many of our distinguished members here tonight. And even happier to see all the rest of you! HAA!

The Man.

» Continued

Nov 27, '09 : Benchmarks

Remember a while ago when I wrote that “[t]here is no place - and this is no exaggaration, simply a fact, so I repeat it: no place - a Swede can’t set up a bench, or hasn’t already done so"?

Yeah, the other day I went for a walk and thought about how I said that, and how right I was. I think I may have even said it out loud, “that thing you wrote about the benches last summer, on July 14, that was so right on, it was so true.” The thing that made me remind myself of that piece was a bench that I saw on my way to the mall.

This one:

Good old bench.

» Continued

Oct 31, '09 : Get a move on

Moving is huge. Moving in with another person even huger. Helping out with that moving in is not as huge, but can be pretty interesting, especially if you only really know half of the couple now moving in together and if you’ve never seen the other person’s apartment before.

Photo by Hannes E. Arhammar Pakarinen

» Continued

Aug 24, '09 : Two hearts

He was lying on his side, supporting his head with his hand, stroking Wife’s hair gently. She was lying on her back, reading a magazine. 

Viva Las Vegas! 

» Continued

Jul 27, '09 : A friend of a friend

There’s this friend of mine. Let’s call him “Alec”, and let’s assume that it’s not his real name. It’s just a random name, with no hidden meanings, no Latin roots, or witty anagrams baked in. It’s just code for this friend of mine.

“Alec” may or may not be Finnish, and he may or may not live in Finland. He could be 20, or he might be 45. Or neither. He’s not one of the Baldwin brothers. Who he is, is not the point.

» Continued

Jul 25, '09 : Maroon submarine

I once saw Ringo Starr up close. I was walking down the street in Rome with my wife, when Mr. Starr came out of a building and crossed the street right in front of us.

Very surprising. I’m not the biggest Beatles fan in the world but I knew that beard, that nose, that look.

» Continued

10:53am UK, Thursday May 21, 2009<br />
"Interpol are hunting a couple who have fled New Zealand after a bank paid £4.9m into their account by mistake. Huan Di Zhang and Hui Gao asked Westpac Bank for a $10, 000 (£4, 900) overdraft but instead received a deposit of $10m (£4.9m), according to the New Zealand Press Agency."


Huan and Hui stuffed the money in a duffle bag, closed down their gas station, and hit the road, in pursuit of a better life as millionaires.

» Continued

Feb 16, '09 : Butterfly effect

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the current global economic disarray. The Chicago School says one thing, the Harvard people another, and the IMF analysts yet something else. Nobody seems to know what is going on, and why.

Not to mention the most important question: whose fault is this?

Is it half full?

» Continued

Feb 10, '09 : A list

I'm not much of a list maker, but I am married to one. So, this one's for the lady in the house: My Top 10 memorable movie quotes (in response to the Brits' list). My list consists of lines I actually use in real life, regularly, sad as it may seem.

10. "You're the doc, Doc", Back To The Future.
9. "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn", Gone With The Wind
8. "I broke the window again", A Night at the Roxbury
7. "Trade me right fucking now," Slapshot
6. "The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed -- for lack of a better word -- is good", Wall Street

» Continued

Dec 31, '08 : Date with a date

Here we are now. Welcome, 2009. Wishing you a great new year.

This could be the year.

Jul 29, '08 : Ear this

Found this in a great piece about voice recognition:
The human ear is exquisitely sensitive; research has shown, for example, that people can distinguish between hot and cold coffee simply by hearing it poured.
Can you believe that? I have to do my own experiments. Genius at work.

There he was, sitting by the curb, with a little cup in front of him. Well, sitting is not the right word. He was on his knees, with his arms extended, palms pressed together. He was from Romania, said the cardboard sign in front of him.

I pulled him up and asked him to come with me. I was going to the coffee shop anyway. Here we are now, I'm blogging away, and he, Hristo, seems to like brownies. He's already had three of them, and a huge caffe latte.

But, soon, we'll have to go. I have to go to a hockey game, and he back to work.

In the Wikipedia entry for Robin Williams, it says, "Robin McLaurim Williams (born July 21, 1951 or 1952)." I find that fascinating. How does that work? Does anybody know his year of birth? Does he know?

Today, I also listened to WNYC's Soundcheck podcast about stage names. How did Gordon Sumner become Sting? David Jones David Bowie? Apparently, even Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a stage name.

I guess it's all about the image. It's like that episode of Seinfeld where George is trying to make his colleague to call him "T-bone." Doesn't stick because he's no T-bone even though he'd would give anything to be one.

Risto Pakarinen. Hmmm... Maybe it's time to pick a new one.

T-bone? Or maybe just a variation of Risto, like on the ticket stub with Heart's Nancy Wilson's autograph: "Reestow, lots of love, Nancy Wilson". Or, Kris Top. You know, with a little "risto" in the middle.

And let's just say that Kris Top was born on April 1, 1978.

Whoah, it's his birthday soon! Mine, I mean.

Jan 29, '08 : It's in the jeans

I love jeans. I remember taking the bus down to downtown Helsinki with one of my best friends - a.k.a. The Coolest Guy in the Class - to go to that Mic Mac store to get our first Levi’s 501s.

Only, they didn’t have them in my size, so I had to buy another kind. No idea what the type was, but I do know that the label on the butt was not red, but orange. And if you had asked me in school the day after, it was a flaming orange label that could be seen blocks away.

It was supposed to be red.

» Continued

Jan 08, '08 : Stranger than fiction

There she was, sitting at the office in the middle of the day. The boss was in one of his moods again, don't even get her started on that. She was hiding behind her computer, waiting for him to just go away.

When the boss finally - finally - turned around and locked himself in his office, she lifted her keyboard to see the clipping again. There it was, the short story of the Boston Bruins' hot new goalie.

» Continued

Jan 04, '08 : Polar bears in Finland

I thought this was interesting.

National Geographic's story

Simply because it's something I have suspected for a long time. I mean, when I was a kid and walked the ten miles to school, barefooted, in the snow, uphill both ways, those polar bears were always waiting for me somewhere, wanting to take my lunch, but I haven't seen them for years.

In fact, not since our igloo melted back in the 1980s.

Here's a quick interview with Team Finland head coach, Doug Shedden, off

And here's wishing you Merry Xmas!

Santa and two of his helpers. One of them is over 100 years old.

Feb 26, '07 : Bored

I was so bored today I had to call my Mom and tell her that I had nothing to do. As usual, she had a few suggestions. Mothers always do. Must be something they get at the maternity clinic when the father is in the parking lot, trying to find his car.

» Continued

Feb 14, '07 : Master of my domain

Here's a special post for a special occasion. It's my wife's birthday, and I wanted to do something special. So, here's the first ever RPodcast. It's a short short story about a man, his job and a baby, with some autobiographical elements in it.

If you don't want to listen to my reading of the piece, the entire text can be found after the jump. (But you'll miss photos, some sound effects, and my lulling voice.)

Master of My Domain, 11MB, time: 8:14

"In a minute!"

» Continued

Jan 20, '07 : The Kid

Nausea invaded my stomach and my knees went weak. I could see Coach Williams walking towards me with his arms open wide.
“Holy shit, kid! I never thought I’d see this day,” he yelled. Coach Williams was a big man, and when he hugged me, you couldn’t basically see me at all. I simply disappeared in Coach’s embrace.

» Continued

Sep 28, '06 : Grumpy for dummies

The key to being a grumpy old man is being completely self-centered and self-absorbed. If you have trouble getting into the zone, here's your mantra: "The world is out to get me." If that seems too grand, and not really you, try this one: "Whaddaya lookin' at?"

Say that to the first person you meet today, and you can be sure you will instantly get into the right GOM frame of mind.

These people are fake grumpies.

» Continued

Sep 25, '06 : Cognito, Ergo Sum

"Went to the gym last night, again."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah, I've found this new thing, I do fifteen minutes with the ergometer, feels awesome."


» Continued

Dear Country of Origin,

First of all, let me start by saying that I really, really care for you and you’ll always have a special place in my heart. I just feel that we’ve grown apart. Also, it’s not you, it’s me. I want to, no, I have to end this relationship because I love you too much. I don’t think you should be spending any more time with me, I am only holding you back.

Although, you were holding me back a little when you said I couldn’t see any other countries. Come on, what’s up with that? Just because you never want to go out anymore, doesn’t mean that I have to stay at home as well. I thought we had some trust between us. This is not what I had in mind when we agreed to have an open relationship. So what if I thought Italian food was the best in the world? Yeah, right, coffee, too. Oh, and ice cream. I just can’t lie to you anymore. I hate your meatballs.

» Continued