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Danehy

Tom is celebrating the end of the election season by trying a taste of Finland

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Back in the early days of the Tucson Weekly, I wrote a first-person thing as I sat on the couch and watched election results come in. As always, the election was held on a Tuesday, but through the further bending of some (back-then) often-bent rules, the piece made that week's paper and was, therefore, relatively timely. But that was back in the days of, "Hey, gang, let's put out a newspaper!" These days, this publication is a business, with deadlines and stuff, and has to take seriously its position as the Voice of Tucson.

What I'm saying is that I'm writing this on Friday, four days before the election, so any attempt on my part to offer timely analysis on how the campaigns were run would sound stilted, like the journalistic equivalent of running around one's backhand in tennis so as to smash a powerful forehand. That tennis maneuver, I've done many times, but as for the "journalistic" stuff, that really doesn't apply to me, a fact to which any trained journalist will attest.

Obviously, I hope that by the time this appears in print, I will be celebrating the re-election of President Barack Obama, if for no other reason than to show the Republicans (and all other political parties) that standing in the corner for four years, holding their collective breath and shaking their heads "No!" is not a viable strategy.

Oh yeah, before I forget: Don't you think that Microsoft could send through an update or a patch or something so that spell-check doesn't put squiggly red lines under the proper spelling of the name of the president of the United States?!

There will be plenty of time for reflection on the election and for letting those who emerged victorious in their various races know what will be expected of them in the coming year(s). But right now, I believe my focus needs to be elsewhere, because this coming weekend is FinnFest. You heard me right—FinnFest.

From Thursday, Nov. 8, through Sunday, Nov. 11, FinnFest 2012 will be rocking the Doubletree Hotel-Reid Park, and I'm going. (For more on FinnFest, see TQ&A.)

I have an especially good reason for wanting to go, because this year on my girls basketball team at Green Fields Country Day School is a foreign-exchange student from Finland! She's the first foreign-exchange student I've ever had on a team, and she just happens to show up the same year that the traveling FinnFest hits Tucson. It's eerie.

The kid's name is Sofia, and she's absolutely delightful. She's told me her last name about 15 times; I think it starts with an L. Her English is actually pretty good, but whenever I ask her what town she's from, it sounds like she's gargling a mouthful of jacks.

She's never played basketball before—and it shows—but she's a hard worker and a quick learner. I think she might help, which is good, because we've only got seven kids in our entire program. (Last year, we went 26-4, so quantity wasn't a factor; I'm hoping for a repeat of last year, or, at least, a reasonable facsimile thereof.)

The kid is always smiling, and I mean always. I believe she would smile at a bus accident.

As a good American, I try to mess with her whenever possible. When she let slip that she had eaten dog meat, I piled on (in an ethnically insensitive manner) by asking if it tasted like reindeer.

In response, she deadpanned, "No, not really."

I was going to make fun of her country's government, but I figure that anybody from a country that has a popular vote and an Electoral College probably shouldn't throw stones. There is one weird thing: One of the major parties in her country is the Swedish People's Party of Finland. I mean, just imagine if we had ... no, never mind. You should never give Tea Party people the opportunity to make a joke. It never ends well.

I get a special kick out of bugging Sofia about the fact that Finland isn't part of Scandinavia. Almost every source says that Scandinavia consists of Sweden, Norway and Denmark. I always tell Sofia that Finland is like North Latvia. In strictly correct geographical terms, North Latvia would be Estonia, but "North Latvia" is much funnier than "North Estonia."

Anyway, I'm going to FinnFest, and I assume that Sofia's host family will be taking her as well. And no, I'm not trying any of the food. My rule is simple: If it's not Mexican or Italian or fried chicken or something you can buy at a baseball game, I'm not eating it.

One of the cool attractions is a field trip to Bisbee to honor the 76 Finns who were part of the hundreds of miners rounded up by company goons and taken by rail cars to New Mexico after a copper-mine strike in 1917.

There will be exhibits, discussion groups and lots of music, including classical recitals and folk music. In the ballroom, there will be dancing to the music of Finn Hall, and Gertie and the T.O. Boys.

You know what they say: Ain't no party like a FinnFest party, 'cause a FinnFest party don't stop.

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