Sunday, January 28, 2007

Today and 40 years ago

The CHAFF meeting today had a few new faces. The food was great.

Finns Jukka Kokko and Tero Haaraniemi with his Thai wife "Monday-cats", plus Ashesh Kumar's wife, Indu and their 3 year old son, Karthik, were our new attendees.

Benjamin (Australia), Kasia (Poland), Ashesh (India), Tony (Finland) and Lauri (Finland) were also in attendance with Unnop, Pailin, Soda, Yut (all Thai) and myself. Tero was late and hence missed all of us!

Next week we will have some new attendees. The meeting on Sunday 4th February 2007 will start at the Pailin Restaurant, Kenttätie 9, Kasarmi Area, at 13:00 hours.

(The following was cross-posted on my Jacob's Blog.)

It was 40 years ago that in a small but picturesque town of Shrewsbury in Shropshire, England, that we were joined together in "Holy Matrimony".

Today we celebrated our 40th Wedding Anniversary. Pailin and Unnop carved us a beautiful honey melon.

We received greetings from all corners of the globe which made us feel so humbled that so many of you remembered us on this very auspicious day.

Next target - our 50 years anniversary.

I refer you to my tribute to my dearest girlfriend, wife, mother of our children and a great grandmother of our grandchildren, which I created for her 60th birthday.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Special action on 1st February 2007

(Cross-posted on all my major blogs.)

This message was sent to me by my friend 59er Peter Miovic for the widest possible circulation. Since I believe in this cause, I am posting this on all my blogs and groups.

Hope you will take heed and spread it within your circle.

Send this message to as many people as you know!

An action to bring climate change to the notice of Politicians and World Leaders

On February 1st 2007 take part in one of the biggest actions against climate change organised by the people.

L'Alliance pour la Planète (a group of environmental activists) send this call to all civilians:

Make our planet rest for five minutes!

Everybody is requested to dim his/her lights for five minutes between 7.55 pm and 8.00 pm on February 1st 2007.

This not only to save engergy for five minutes, but to bring this message in a way that will attract the attention of politicians and leaders.

It is time for them to take action and avoid the waste of energy.

During the 5 minutes we'll give the planet rest: it doesn't take long and it won't cost you a thing.

And it will make a statement before the Belgian federal elections that we as citizens want climate on the agenda.

And why February 1st 2007?

Because on that day a new file from the climatologic experts of the United Nations will be published in Paris.

Because it is with our Belgian neigbours, it is impossible to let this opportunity slip!

We have to get attention to the urgent matter of the worlds climatological situation. If everybody takes part in this action it will have an effect on media and politics that might have a real influence, this would be good on such short notice before the (Belgian) elections!

Make this message go around the globe, send it to friends, family and local politicians. Put it in your newsletter and your blogs.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Welcome to new CHAFF participants

Chaff this week was flowing over with a few new participants and many regular ones, especially to welcome our new Oulu resident, Ashesh Kumar (India), who will represent the new owner of the Biotechnology pharma manufacturing facility in Medipolis.

Overview of some of those present.

Anup, JM, Pailin, Tero, Päivi, Ashesh, Nadja.

Among the many regular Chaff participants present this week were Tony Manninen (Finland), Pentti and Sisko Paakki (Finland), Tero Raiskio (Finland), Lauri Gardner (Finland), Mona (Finland), Kasia Mazur (Poland), Lena Viskari (Poland), Tingting (China), Ken (China), Anup (Nepal), Shahnaz (Iran), Yrjö (Finland) and Nadja (Iran & Finland) Mikkonen, Isaac Sundarajen (USA/India), Feroze (India), Nageshwari and Kiran Kumar (India), Vamsi Palukuru (India), Kanchan Gupta (India), Pailin and Unnop (Thailand) and yours truly, a world citizen.

Lena at the center of a discussion,
while Päivi engages with students Anup and Ken.

Mona, Julie, Brad and Kasia,
with Lauri with his back to the camera.

Also new to the Chaff meetings were Paivi Kyötömaki (Finland), the Head of the Oulu University Library, who loves India, Julia Väisäen (Germany/Finland/Holland), a cosmopilitan young girl who is an exchange student to Finland from Germany, Brad Sharek (USA), who is involved with marketing of Codenomicon, Aruna (India), the wife of Vamsi, who were married last August in India,

Pailin and Shahnaz.

The atmosphere could be judged by the decibels coming out from the restaurant.

Pailin and Unnop dished up a fabulous buffet, a great spiced vegetarian noodle salad, and a vegetarian dry curry, a chicken, a beef and a pork dish. The meal was relished by all, and that is more than half the success of CHAFF, as the ambiance and food suits this crowd.

We are especially grateful to them for allowing us to monopolise the restaurant on Sunday afternoons, much to the detriment of their regular customers, many of whom have a problem with the noise we generate.

Thank you Pailin and Unnop.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Attending a funeral

The CHAFF Meeting on Sunday 14th January will be at 13:00 hours at the Pailin Restaurant, Kenttätie 9, Kasarmi Area.)

>The following is cross-posted from Jacob's Blog.)

Raija Pojhanpalo

Today at 12 noon we attended the funeral of Raija Pohjanpalo at the Old Chapel in Oulu.

We took flowers and a card with us from Bill, Tingting, Unnop and Pailin and from the two of us.

Jacob read the message which said:

"The sun sets on a golden personality,
But the brightness will linger in our hearts forever."

The photograph was a beautiful sunset in Oulu, Finland
recorded by our elder daughter Susanna in 1990.

After the service, which was very emotional for all of us who attended, we joined the family and friends at the Kaukovainio Chapel for a get-together to celebrate the life of Raija.

Patrick and Leena.
Nephew Jari, who lived with Raija,
can be seen between the two.

Patrick Dickson, the South African priest in Oulu who has known Raija from 1976, organised the event.

His wife, Leena read a message from Pirkko Böhm, who ran the English Club as Secretary for many years with Raija as Treasurer, also when Annikki was Chairperson for the Club.

It is difficult in one's heart to let go of someone whom one loves very much. And it was evident that from the emotions we saw displayed, every single person present expressed their love and admiration with tears for the gentle personality of Raija.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tears to shed

(Cross-posted on the Jacob's Blog.)

In 1984, when we moved to Finland, Annikki was looking for something to do. She saw an advertisement in the local newspaper calling on children of Finns who had lived abroad who wanted to continue to study English to register with the English Club of Oulu.

Two of our oldest friends in Oulu,
Pirkko Böhm and Raija Pohjanpalo.

Annikki contacted the Club and volunteered her services to teach English to the children. She met two people, Pirkko Böhm, the Secretary and Raija Pohjanpalo, the Treasurer.

A few months later, we were asked to give a lecture about India by the English Club. Annikki prepared some beautiful paintings of Indian birds and scenery and one of Mother Teressa for an exhibition of India. Jacob, dressed in a "mundu and jubba" and Annikki in a sari, presented a well attended lecture. Also present were many members of the English Club, including Raija.

Our friendship with Raija has lasted these 22 years.

When Annikki was the Chairperson of the English Club, Raija was at her side through quite difficult days as we tried to make the Club a really active entity.

Raija had a difficult life as she had to care for her invalid mother till she had died. Raija lived with her nephew, Jari, and they had some rough times. (Raija was the sister of Jari's father.)

But Raija was always smiling.

A couple of years ago, when she was really in financial trouble because of her illness, cancer, she asked Jacob for help. This was rendered. There was no consideration of it having to be repaid. But Raija, despite her ill health, worked and repaid that amount in full.

Raija helped many many foreigners including a few CHAFF participants with their accounts. Her ill health made it difficult, but she wanted to help all those who came to her.

A couple of months ago, Patrick Dickson sent a message to all English Club members through its Chairperson, Anna-Liisa Hirvenoja, saying that Raija was very seriously ill and advising those who knew her to pay her a visit to say their goodbyes.

Jacob had met Raija just a few days before this. Raija had been so optimistic that she did not give him any inkling of the terrible pain and suffering she was going through.

This week, Jacob received a call from Jari telling him that Raija had passed away last Wednesday, the 3rd of January 2007. Jacob broke down and cried, for this was someone that both of us loved very much.

Today, Annikki spoke to Jari when we visited him in their home where they had lived, two invalids taking care of each other.

Jari was very bitter with the medical system. He had advised Raija not to take the new medication that she was being offered. On Wednesday, Raija had rung Jari from the hospital where she had admitted herself saying that she was feeling much better and she hoped to be home by Thursday.

On Thursday, Jari had a call from the hospital saying that Raija had passed away.

Medical malpractice in Finland cost Jari his leg which had been amputated. The treatment on his back by Finnish doctors has made him an invalid.

Jari is no stranger to the incompetence of the Finnish medical profession and the depth to which they cover up the mistakes of their brotherhood in the profession. In one instance the lawyer had told him that his compensation file would vanish - which it had!

Jari had begged Raija not to follow what the doctors advised her in the treatment of her cancer.

But Raija was the trusting type, and today, Raija is no more.

There was never a time when we met that Raija would not ask after all our children and grandschildren. And we knew that it was not just social chit chat, as she was really interested to know about them.

When she had a problem installing her new computer, it was our son-in-law, Tony, that went to help her out.

Raija was one of our family.

We are going to miss her very much.

The funeral service will take place at the Old Chapel in the Oulu Cemetery Grounds at 12 noon on Saturday 13th January 2007. There will be a gathering of the family and friends to pay tributes to the wonderful personality, at the Kaukkovainio Parish Premises immediately thereafter.

The cremation of the body will take place privately next Monday, as that was what Raija wanted.

May her tired loving soul rest in peace.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Nobel Laureate attends CHAFF

The first meeting CHAFF for 2007 was an event which showed that we are going to have an outstandingly great year. This first meeting was attended by persons from Germany, Hungary, India, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Poland, Thailand, Zambia, and many many Finns.

The Restaurant Pailin went to no end to make sure the even was a success. Unnop is a master carver, but this time he allowed Pailin to carve her first water melon.

Carving in progress

Completed work of fruit art

An admirer

As is said, behind every successful man is a lady. In this case there are two ladies, mother and daughter. The watermelon was made as a gift to two of them behind the Nobel Laureate, Julista and her daughter Ildiko, who is one of our earliest CHAFF participants.

Ildiko and Pailin

Unnop, Nobel Laureate Arpad Hamos and Pailin

Unnop, Ilari, Arpad, Ildiko, Julista and Pailin

The meeting celebrated not only the visit of Nobel Laureate Arpad Hamos and his wife, Julista, to CHAFF, but also the marriage of Ilari Sohlo to Ildiko, the daughter of the Nobel Laureate, week before last. Ildiko and Ilari are the celebrated authors of the book "Culture Shock Finland" which has been published in German.

Arpad is an expert on the safe transportation of hazardous materials, especially nuclear stuff. Although now just retired from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), he is so young at heart and is eager to continue his work as a Consultant. With enormous projects like the Olkiluoto expansion of the nuclear power plant, there will be no shortage of takers for his knowledge!

The meeting was very much a family affair as besides Leena (Poland) and her husband, and two children, we had Ville and his wife, Fumi (Japan) and her baby daughter, Mari, at the meeting.

Prasad from Chennai, India, and
Ilari gets two thumbs up from me.

Besides Leena and her family, who were attending for the first time, we had three new Indian engineers working in Oulu also attending their first CHAFF meeting. Two are from Chennai and the third from Bihar.

Japanese formula soap - Made in Finland.
(Photograph from Ville's site.)

Fumi has just started an experimental project to make soap which is based on olive oil, palm oil and coconut oil. As was described by her, it is matured in the cold process, which lets the saponification reaction go slowly at room temperature. As a side product, the soap contains glycerol, which is good to keep the moisture in the skin and which is usually removed in commercial soap. The reason why Fumi has started this soap making project is this point.

This soap is good for the skin and also good for shampooing. After washing the hair with this soap, simply rinse the hair with vinegar water. (Approximately 2-3 shot glasses of any kind of vinegar for eating in a bucket of water).

Let us hope Fumi gets this soap into a production scale fast, as having tested her soap last night, I can say it certainly was a great experience as my dry skin was tingling with freshness!

Fumi, daughter Mari and Pailin.

Fumi is a biochemist doing research at Oulu University. But at the moment she is enjoying her first throes of motherhood looking after her beautiful daughter, Mari.

There was much work executed at the meeting behind the scenes. Connections were made to help those in trouble, and contributions were received to the CHAFF Help Fund.

We especially missed those who were ill, still away of holiday, those who were out of town, or those who could not make it to the meeting for reasons beyond their control! But the spirit of Tero, although feeling sick, made it to the meeting. Those who missed this meeting certainly missed an event which truly represents the enormous people power of CHAFF.

See you, as usual, next week on Sunday 14th January 2007 at 1300 hours at the Pailin Restaurant, Kenttätie 9, Kasarmi Area.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

2007 vs. 2006

(Cross-posted on all our major blogs.)

2006 was a wonderful year, better than 2005; 2005 was a wonderful year, better than 2004, and.......

So what lies ahead in 2007?

Our Symbol for 2007 - The White Orchid.

Judging by the first 6 days, it is going to be a hectic year ahead, far more exciting than the previous few years.

We can see several changes ahead.

Already, the blogging world has changed. We have started something different in that we have, besides the blogs, started our own Google Groups.

The first two Groups that we started are the Oulu CHAFF Group and the Seventh Heaven for Cathedralite 59ers.

In a matter of just a few hours, the 40+ people of the Class of 1959 from the Cathedral and John Connon School, both the Boys and Girls, were aboard the Group. In a matter of a couple of days the list of persons grew by over 10 so that we have now identified over 70 members of our years at school. All our Group members are scouring the world to locate the missing persons so that we can hold a great 50th year reunion in November 2009.

This 3-year project which has excited everyone from the Arctic (Jacob) across the globe!

The Oulu CHAFF Group is only slowly taking off the ground. But the restart of the meetings in 2007 have started with a real coup with a 2005 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Arpad Hamos and his wonderful wife, from Hungary, gracing the first meeting on Sunday.

It is obvious that the Oulu CHAFF Group will have its work cut out for it during this coming year as there are literally hundreds of issues hanging over the fire. The amazing part is that those that once received help are now making significant contributions in helping others, taking the burden off the few that were origially involved in setting up this Assistance Forum. Much more ways of helping those in distress are becoming available and it is going to be an exciting year as CHAFF consolidates itself.

The main Jacob's Blog will remain intact and present a more focused look at the lives of two individuals, Annikki and Jacob, as it takes another major direction during 2007.

Important changes are just being discussed. But they are causing huge waves across the city of Oulu.

Several, we are sure, who will be quite happy to see the likes of us out of this City. But, there are an equal number who are appalled that we may make some move away from Oulu after the 23 years we have been here.

What is important to understand is that with the new power to the people of the internet, wherever we may be, in Oulu or in Newcastle, England or in Kerala, India, we will still be able to handle the problems, be parts of Groups, take part in the action in different parts of the world, without the need of the physical presence in any location.

In the computer world it is probably refered to as "virtual reality". Annikki and Jacob will be part of that virtual reality not only in Oulu, but in several locations around the world, throughout the year.

With that, both of us would like to wish each and every one of you a Happy and Prosperous New Year and let good health and vitality follow you wherever you are.

In that we share a greeting which was sent to us by Thomas Grorge from Helsinki:

May this 2007,
Blessings harrass you,
Happiness attack you wherever you go,
May misery be hijacked from you, and
May thieves pickpocket all your worries.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

CHAFF: 2005 Nobel Peace Prize Winner will attend

I sent out this email a few minutes ago to those CHAFF participants whose email addresses I have.

Please reply as soon as possible.

Dear CHAFF Participants,

Welcome back after the season's holidays.

We wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year.

2007 Sunday Meetings START with an Atomic Explosion!

Nobel Peace Prize Certificate of Arpad Hamos

This Sunday's CHAFF meeting will be graced by a 2005 Nobel Peace Prize Winner.

Hungarian Arpad Hamos, and his wife, will join us for the buffet at the Pailin Restaurant, Kenttätie 9, Kasarmi Area.

He, and his colleagues, at the IAEA in Vienna, have been readers of our CHAFF blog for a long time. Many of them have been keenly interested in our work, especially as Arpad's daughter, Ildiko, has been one of the key CHAFF case workers.

We first thought we would move the buffet to another location.

There has been much objection to that. Everyone loves the ambience at Pailin, as well as the buffet.

We decided to have the meeting as two groups:

First group: 13:00 hours to 14:00 hours
Second group: 14:00 hours to 15:00 hours.

This way we can accommodate all our current CHAFF participants to meet and discuss with this outstanding family in our usual surroundings.

Please let me know, by return email to

which group you will be joining.

I hope it will divide it roughly on a 50:50 basis. If not I will intervene!

On the CHAFF Blog

you will now see a box at the top of the page.

This is for you to join the NEW Google CHAFF Group, where most of our interesting discussions will in future take place.

Join this Group to be part of this fast moving action taking place within CHAFF.

Looking forward to seeing you all this Sunday.

Jacob Matthan
Chaff Participant
Oulu, Finland