Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A word that is missing in English #1


It's a great word for "girlfriend" (or "woman friend" but that sounds so... hm... old? or "female friend" but that sounds to me like your talking about animals... "the female monkey is bla bla bla").

And "girlfriend" can be both a friend or a girlfriend girlfriend if you know what I'm saying.

A "väninna" is just a "väninna" period.

So tonight I went to IKEA with a "väninna"!

A great ending...

This morning I made a long list of things that I was to finish today. By 5 pm I hadn't even started with any of them...

So I decided to go to IKEA with a Swedish friend instead.

A much better way to end a day that didn't turn out the way you had planned (and I can just recycle the list to be tomorrow's list and we all like recycling...).

Anyway - my IKEA finally had Marabou!! Only the small rolls - but still!

The woman in the food store, looked curiously at me, unpacking all this weird Swedish food combinations (a frozen limpa, skorpor, nyponsoppa, pärlsocker etc) but it wasn't until she saw my name on the credit card that she asked shyly if I spoke Swedish (still in English). My name is a name that is pretty Swedish, but still could not be (especially if I were an American from say Minnesota).

But I guess the combination of the name and the shopping basked with weird Swedish food gave me away... She was Swedish too - so we talked a while about the importance of the IKEA food store (imagine to WORK there as a Swedish alien!?!).

Why are we so shy about this I wonder? Same thing always happens to me the SAS check in counter in Chicago every time I fly to Sweden. The service representative has a name tag with a name that could be Swedish, I look very Swedish (tall and blonde and blue eyes, a living Swedish stereotype... ) (if only I was thinner too...) but until the point where you show your passport the conversation continues in English... Hm... maybe next time I'll just start speak Swedish and see what happens.

Anyway, me and my Swedish friend talked about how we feel at home at IKEA and when we parted we were happy as we had been out on a big, fun night down town... when we had just got a few bags of tea lights (just kidding) and chocolate (oh, and the rest of the 5 bags of stuff you didn't knew you needed...).

It's probably cheaper to have a girl's night out down town than at IKEA....

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Mrs Husband...

I wonder if I'll ever get used to be called Mrs Husband Lastname...

The Swedish woman in me cringes every time I see this in written.

I just got a letter today to Mr & Mrs Husband Lastname. What happened to me??

I wonder if you get official letters to Herr & Fru Make Efternamn in Sweden?? (I've only been married here so I don't know).

I don't mind being called Mrs Lastname in the store, it's kind of cute (even though I wasn't sure who they were talking about the first time... "have a nice day Mrs Lastname!" Who??) (or maybe I was so unused to someone wishing me a nice day....) even though Mrs" sounds so.... old? (will I ever be older than 22??).

Is it only me who always think of "Mrs Robinson" when I hear "Mrs"... ?

Anyway. On most official forms here you have to state if you are a Miss or a Mrs. Or sometimes a Ms.

A Ms can be both a Miss or a Mrs. So if you want to feel "older" than a Miss, but younger than a "Mrs", I guess "Ms" can be your title of choice.

It's easier to be a man. Then you're always a Mr.

Monday, January 29, 2007

What should be our third language??

When we need to keep secrets from our kids, we can't , like parents in Sweden (at least before the kids are in school) speak English and they won't understand us. Perfect when you want to discuss the presence of ice cream or other secrets.

Our kids knows English (well the youngest isn't really speaking yet, but is trying hard). Soon better than us.

So English is out as our "secret language".

Ok. Let's see. What languages are left. The husband took German. I did not. I took Spanish. He did not. We both took French. He for six years and I for four. That's a total of 10 years education in French...

10 equals the number of correct sentences (short!) we can say in French. And none includes the word ice cream.

My favorite comedian on speaking French you learned in school:

Something we don't have to worry about

Sometimes you're reminded about some of the advantages of living in Californian when reading Swedish news online.

Icicles are not really a big issue here...

(the picture is from one of the major Swedish newspapers and the headline says "The Icicles are growing")

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Fast food days

Ok, so since we've been playing HGTV* all weekend we've relied on fast food to get us going between trips to the HomeDepot, using the drill, trying to find the hammer and keeping the kids away from the chaos.

We're not really eating fast food (we actually eat pretty "Swedish", thanks the husband who is the chef in this house), despite what many of our friends in the "old country" seem to think about eating habits in the "new world".

When we eat fast food, we stick to the same thing.

Carl's Jr's Six Dollar Burger.

They call it the first "sit-down restaurant style burger at a quick-service restaurant".

I think pictures of hamburgers usually are grouse and disgusting, but I just have to include a picture of one. This is fast food you can actually eat and not feel completely.... hm... fat? unhealthy?

Carls' Jr started 1941 in Los Angeles and still is pretty focused to California...

(*HGTV = Home&Garden Television channel, programs about, "decorating, remodeling, home improvement and gardening ideas" - 24/7 )

Work weekend


We're doing some major changes in the house and this weekend was the big crescendo. A 48 race to get the house "livable" before the start of the week (and good thing we claim Monday is the start of the week and not Sunday...).

We're lucky. We live 5 minutes away from HomeDepot. Home Depot is pure heaven for those who love to fix and renovate their homes. And a necessity for the rest of us who just need the strangest screws, nails or gear to finish projects we started.

HomeDepot is a HUGE store with everything you need for almost anything.

I get a headache when I enter.

Anyway. It's open until 10 pm (and if you go there when the Sunday football game is on - you'll have lot's of space to yourself).

We've been there four times in the last 48 hours.

Friday, January 26, 2007

In my iPod right now....

Ok, so I guess I will be forever stuck in the 80s when it comes to music... The music just brings me back in time, is great and fun and just the BEST!

I love "big" voices - and Alison Moyet sure has a HUGE one.

In Europe the group she belonged to before going solo was called Yazoo, but in the US it was called Yaz. Things like that only worked pre-internet.

This was and IS one of my favorites... (not the best music video maybe - but then this IS the 80s..., just close your eyes and pump up the volume and lean back an enjoy!).

(and it works great during labor...).

A little sing-a-long in the morning?

Yesterday I "talked" with some of my online friends about the American phenomena to sing the national anthem before the start of sport events. Since most of us haven't been living in Sweden in a couple of years we were not sure about if this is a Swedish phenomena as well (and at that time were not regular visitor to these events anyway...).

I have vague memories of the Swedish anthem being sung at least before the start of ice hockey games?

The Americans are pretty good at creating big events, especially sport events - and all of them starts with the singing of the national anthem. Usually there is a lead singer, standing out in the middle of the arena, singing a cappella.

The American national anthem is actually pretty tricky to sing - lot's of high and low notes. But who could better handle this than Josh Groban...

Try to sing along to this one if you can!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

No pea soup for me today (or any other day...)

Today is Thursday. Traditional "pea soup and pancake" day in Sweden.

I wouldn't mind the pancakes. But I'm skipping the pea soup. Yuk.

The most famous Swedish pea soup eaters are the eighteen members of the Swedish Academy, founded in 1786 to advance the Swedish Language (and is also the institution that awards the Nobel Prize in Literature).

They meet at beautiful the restaurant Gyldende Freden (founded 1722) in the Old Town in Stockholm every Thursday.

I wonder if they get pancakes afterwards.

The ultimate WAH machine...

Maybe I need something like this in the new office we're organizing... I'm working from home and this "little" machine has everything you would want... It has a scanner, copier and fax machine as well as an LCD screen and a DVD player, speakers AND an espresso machine.

Send something to the printer and pick up a cup of coffee while you're there.

As Konica-Minolta says, "this device has the perfect balance of work, rest and play".

Only two minor things... it's HUGE and I don't drink coffee...

I have to wait for the BizHub that can brew tea. Or make hot cocoa.

And get a bigger house first.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What a great day!

Today was one of those days I was pretty content with being in California.

It's January, but the sun was shining and it's nice and warm. Spring is in the air. Only some trees drop their leaves here, and for the palm trees it's always summer. The birds haven't left (though I'm no bird expert, I'm sure that birds come and go here as well, maybe not to the same extent as in Sweden were most birds (the smart ones) leave for Africa when winter comes) and will nest soon.

I took a walk up to the plaza, saying hello with a smile to the people I passed by (as you always do here), making nice small talk with people in the stores, saying good bye with "have a nice day!".

My English was smooth and people understood me.

In May I will probably start mumble here about Stockholm again... it usually passes when September comes.

A pretty good day actually!

Yummy Californian chocolate

And speaking about chocolate - it's not as good as Marabou - but a good runner up:

The Californian chocolate brand Chirardelli.

It's one of the oldest American chocolate companies. They have their own "Ice Cream and Chocolate Shops" around California and their main own little mini "theme" park, Chirardelli Square in San Francisco.

Their signature chocolate is the SQUARES chocolates - little 1,5 cm*1,5 cm squares that you buy in bags... solid or filled... yummy!

Ghirardelli is pronounced "Gear-ar-delly".

I just learned that from their website. Good thing to know. Because I would not have pronounced it like that... more [jjiirr-ar-dell-i]

I miss hot cocoa days

Mmm. Cold winter day. Warm, red cheeks. After play in the snow or a brisk walk in the cold air, you come inside and make yourself a cup of hot cocoa!

Well, moving to California limits those days....

I still have hot cocoa powder in the kitchen. Chirardelli Double Hot Chocolate. Ready to go.

Who knows, maybe one day global warming will be global chilling...

Letter vs A4

So we're doing a little re-grouping in our house, moving the office from one floor to the other and reorganizing it as we're already making a complete chaos.

And when planning shelving and hanging folders to store work, projects, bills etc etc once again I go nuts over that the US can't follow what almost every other country (except Canada and Mexico who seem to be as stubborn as well) does - the international standard for paper formats!

All my US paper work are in "letter" format and all my Swedish paper work is in "A4". Letter is "shorter and wider" than A4 (or A4 is longer and thinner than letter").

So A4 papers can not fit in hanging folder for letter (to short).


The A4 is of course a very logical system based on the meter. The letter (or the only other "standard" size legal) is a complete random system based on the inch...

I guess we just have to go completely "paperless" and buy a faster scanner instead of doing paper storage solutions...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Villa, Volvo, vovve

In Sweden the average family goes by the name "The Svensson Family" (Svensson being a very common name) - or "medelsvenssons".

And we joke about that you know that you are grown up when you have "villa, Volvo, vovve (i.e "house, a Volvo and a dog").

When reading the Swedish news online today, I read about the yearly statistics report from Statistics Sweden (Statistiska Centralbyrån).

According to an analysis of last years statistical data - this is is the average Swedish family:

The average Swedish family lives in a detached house, worth SEK 770.000 (taxation value), in a metropolitan area. The dad is named Lars (39) and the mom is named Anna (42) and their last name is Johansson. They got married 1990 when Anna was 27 years.
They have two kids, Emma, 12, and Johan, 15. The family eat 1,2 kg (2 lb 10 oz) sweets a week. They drive a silver grey colored Volvo 2000 (even though Anna would have liked a red car). They have a computer and internet connection, but not dog (read more fun facts here).

(picture from the front page of the SCB report)

Monday, January 22, 2007

I wish I had some "dunderhonung"...

Bamse is a well known figure for all Swedish kids. Bamse is the strongest and nicest bear in the whole world. His nice grandmom makes special honey for him, called "dunderhonung". When he eats that he becomes stronger than anyone!

I wish I had some right now.

I have to move some furniture and I just realized it's not even moving when I'm trying to push it.

Now, in what online store can you order some "dunderhonung" and Fedex it over night?

The IKEA version of the Swedish alphabet

I just noticed something I haven't thought of before.

When you search for products on IKEA's website, they ignore the use of our "special" letters, å,ä and ö. "Å" and "ä" is treated like "a" and "ö" is treated like "o".

Of course.

Because how would you find things otherwise unless you know the Swedish alphabet...

So if you want to search for "Bärbar tray" in the "Products A-Z" section, you'll find it between "Bandora table lamp" and "Barren Bathroom series".

The local alternative to IKEA

Since I'm on the IKEA topic I have to mention our second "heaven" - Scandinavian Designs. This is one of our favorite places - full of Scandinavian style furniture and accessories.

More pricey - and very much more complicated to assemble...

After you've assembled something from Scandinavian Designs, you realize that IKEA's instructions are VERY easy...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

And I thought I was an IKEA fan...

We're doing some remodeling, switching rooms "functions" around the house. And since we're are Swedish this of course involved checking the IKEA catalog. In Sweden each household get it's very own IKEA catalog every late summer. Here you have to order it, or pick it up at the store.

Anyway, after spending a serious amount of time swearing over the useless unit inches instead of centimeters (actually IKEA do publish all the measurements in cm online even on the US website thankfully...), I stumbled upon a whole new world when being online googeling for IKEA...

There is a serious amount of websites dedicated to the "hacking of" IKEA stuff and lovers of IKEA out there!

Like the IKEAHacker website. Or Or PositiveFanatics - the unofficial IKEA web journal.

None of them seems too concern about the existence of Marabou chocolate in the Swedish Food store however....

But you can find some really cool "hacks"... And answer polls such as "what was the first thing you bought at IKEA?". (I have no idea what my answer to that would be, I must have been like newborn the first time I was at IKEA like almost all Swedes...).

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Time differences

I never really thought much about time differences until I moved here. I traveled a lot when I was a late teenager and 20something, but mainly in Europe and there are no time zones except if you cross the canal to Great Britain. The main concern when traveling was the different currencies... What bill could you use in which country and how could you keep those different coins separated when crossing the borders.

European travelers sure have it easier these days with the Euro....

Anyway. During my university years I did a one year exchange, but that was before e-mails and I was a poor student and international calls were expensive so I mostly stuck to letters (yes, you know these paper things with a stamp on?) for my communication and time difference doesn't really effect letters.

Now I live in this time difference mess...

If you live in California, the time difference to Sweden (and the rest of central Europe) is 9 hours. After. Which means subtract three hours and add half a day. It's 7 pm here now, 7-3 = 4 pm + half a day = 4 am. Easy!

Well actually I hardly calculate anymore. I have two internal clocks, I know what time it is in Sweden all the time (well, if I know what time it is here that is).

But you really have a pretty small window of opportunity when you can talk to family or colleagues... either you have to stay up very late (and catch some one pretty early in the morning) or you have to get up early (to catch someone late in the work day).

And sometimes an e-mail conversation takes 12 hours to complete, since someone has to sleep in the middle of it.

But at least it's faster than letters.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Don't forget...

My Swedish mother-in-law loves the Swedish design store "Designtorget" and for that we are greatful!

Our house is full of nice things from this beautiful store that she manages to pack in her suitcase when she comes to visit. I love Designtorget and always try to at least run by when in Stockholm. It's a store for independent designers of unique, creative Scandinavian design. They have the most beautiful and fun stuff!

The latest addition (a Christmas gift) is this great door mat!* We love just love it!

(* for non-Swedish speaker it says "Cellphone, Keys, Wallet")

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I speak like a New Yorker... hm...

Nope... I'm obviously not very successful with my Californian English...

At all.

You can check your American English here....

Princess cake in California!

We have found this little bakery that makes "princesstårta"! It tastes almost like the Swedish one!

And it's called "Princess cake". When I've asked the bakery, they don't really know why they actually make this cake or its origin.

I've been trying to figure out if this cake is actually Swedish (as I think most Swedes would think). It seems it was created in the 1930s for the Swedish princesses Margaretha, Märtha and Astrid (daughters to the late king Gustav V's brother Prince Carl), originally called "Grön tårta" (green cake).

And obviously it has found it's way to California.

I have no idea if you can find it in other parts of the US (or California for that matter) (except as frozen in the IKEA food store), but I'm glad we can celebrate birthdays with a little princess cake!

I'm a local celebrity!


Well, at least among the flower delivery people in our city...

I'm the weird alien that get flowers with really complicated cards... They always get stressed out when they see my address on a delivery request and work hard on trying to copy the text on the card...

"What is this language??", one of the flower delivery woman asked desperately yesterday, after stating that it had been awhile since she had been in our house... "Is it German?? I hope I got it right..".

She did. More or less - at least I understand what my friend's message was!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Californian English

When googleing for facts about Swedish dialects, I found out that there is something called "Californian English". I found long, complicated explanations of the phonological processes of Californian English such as it being a rhotic accent etc etc.

And I found out that since California, which is almost exactly the same size as Sweden, is considered a relatively young state and is a state with very blended population - California’s rich diversity makes the state a goldmine of stylistic activity.

In the 1980s "a stereotype of California English was cemented as being primarily the province of Valley Girls and Surfer Dudes"... And certain words from this period such as awesome and dude are popular in California and have spread in the nation, and even international (is the word "dude" used in Swedish these days...?). The use of the word like for numerous grammatical functions or as conversational "filler" has also remained popular in California English and is now found in many other varieties of English (Wikipedia).

must be the equivalence of the Swedish "typ"...

So I just have to say things like "hey dude, you're like awesome" and I will blend in perfectly here!

Ok, so how about the accent...? I found this explanation:

"So what are these features that constitute the stereotypic California accent? In the speech of white people in California, as in many parts of the west, the vowels of hock and hawk, cot and caught, are pronounced the same—so awesome rhymes with possum. Also notable is the movement of the vowels in boot and boat (called back vowels because they are pronounced in the back of the mouth). These vowels all have a tendency to move forward in the mouth, so that the vowel in dude or spoon (as in gag mewith a…) sounds a little like the word you, or the vowel in pure or cute. Also, boat and loan often sound like bewt and lewn—or eeeeuuw." (Do you speak American?)

Did you follow??

Now - you just say the following sentence according to the explanation above and you speak Californian English!

Hey Dude, you're like an awesome hawk on a boat wearing a boot, eating pure possum - eeeeuuw!

You're all set!

Versions of Swedish

I listened to Swedish radio online the other day and the host was speaking a very distinct Swedish dialect. That made me think about dialects as phenomena. I googled some and found out that the Swedish language, with its approximately 9 million speakers, has 20 different "dialect areas" (including the Swedish speaking parts of Finland).

You can even listen to examples online!

Unfortunately they didn't have any examples of "Stockholmska" - the Swedish dialect I kind of speak...

I wonder what my kids Swedish dialect will be... "Swedish Californian dialect"? Or "Dolph Lundgren"-Swedish...??

Ok, got to go - got to turn on some Swedish children's' DVDs!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The night of the Amercian Idol

Tonight is the season premier of American Idol, season six. The sixth American Idol will be chosen by early summer. It's one of the most watched shows in the US.

I've only voted once actually. The premier show - first episode. 2002. I voted for Kelly Clarkson. Great choice obviously (she later won, maybe due to my single vote??).

Anyway, American Idol show is always "live! Which means 3 hours late for us in California.

There is now a Swedish version of this show. Called Idol (but with Swedish pronunciation) (I'm glad they didn't call the show "The Swedish Idol" or "Svenska Idolen" or something similar. That just doesn't... feel right Swedish... not because of the language but because of the culture).

Anyway again. I've never seen the Swedish version (but I do have the CD of last year's winner Agnes). I've read that the judges are pretty hard. But I doubt you can beat the British judge Simon Cowell in the American version. First we all thought he was terrible rude. Until we realized he is just brutally honest.

I watched the two first seasons, but then I kind of lost interest, but did follow the last couple of weeks of last season. I haven't decided if I'm going to tune in tonight. I haven't heard Simon's honesty for a while...

I will loose my memory later!

A recent study shows that lifelong use of use of two languages can help delay the onset of dementia symptoms by four years.


Now I just have to start learn Spanish as well and maybe I'll keep my memory for another four years??

Monday, January 15, 2007

"Mamma Mia!" coming to the big screen

The musical "Mamma Mia!", based on the Swedish group ABBA's music is being adapted to the big screen. How great!

I saw "Mamma Mia!" in Stockholm two years ago and I loved it! All the songs brought back memories from my youth... And the music was the best part, even thought the story* to link it all wasn't too bad.

The interesting thing is that Meryl Streep is set to play the mother (one of the two main characters) in the movie. Now that's a new talent of hers that will be interesting to see!

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilsom will produce it together with Benny Andersson and Björn Ulveaus.

*The story, connected by all the ABBA songs, are about a bride-to-be who never met her father and was raised by her, formerly rebellious mother.

To constantly be three hours late...

If you live in California you live in the PST-zone. Or in UTC-8.*

In real words - this means 3 hours after New York.

Which means that we see everything on TV three hours later than in New York! The Today Show, Good Morning America - they're all three hour late reruns here in the mornings. Or when Regis and Kelly calls someone here in California from their 9 am morning show, they actually call them at 6 am...

Some programs are live however. Like the SuperBowl or the Oscars. If you live on the East Coast, you can start watching the Oscars at 8 pm. If you live here, the show starts at 5 pm when the sun is still up.

If you live in California, these "movie a and TV rewards" shows are huge. Probably the proximity of the events. Tonight is the big Golden Globe Award night.

The Golden Globe is a recorded show however, broadcast on "prime time" time in each time zone (8 pm) . Which means that New Yorkers will know three hours earlier if Kiefer Sutherland from 24 won the Golden Globe award for Best Performance by an Actor in A Televisions Series - Drama"... Despite the fact that the show actually takes place in here in California...


On the other hand, there is the little thing called Internet these days. So if I really want to know beforehand - I just open up Google around 5 pm this afternoon...

*PST = Pacific Standard Time, UTC-8 = eight time zones west of the Greenwich Observatory.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Jack is back!

Ok, so we're Jack-nerds in this family. The only TV-show we can be credited to have followed for the past years is 24. We even watched it on our honeymoon (no joke). Almost considered to name our son Jack (joke).

And now he's back!

Don't call us on tonight (special season premiere) or then on any Monday night between 9 -10 pm PST the next couple of months.

This is the only show we actually watch irl (you got to see commercials sometimes!) (and we can watch together for a change). Season 6 is about to begin!

British humor a Swedish favorite?

As written below, British comedy is usually very successful in Sweden. We seem to have the same sense of humor (or is it just me??). If you grew up during the 70ies in Sweden you could not have missed "Fawlty Towers" ("Pang i bygget" in Swedish). Well, Sweden only had two TV channels at the time, so you pretty much saw everything that was on... But this was really funny.

I remember watching and being on the floor laughing.

It was first broadcast in 1975 and actually only 12 episodes were made. I've seen them all. Several times. I remember that me and my friends, once we were allowed, rented them and watched our favorite episodes.

Fawlty Towers is a British sitcom made by the BBC and first broadcast on BBC2 in 1975. Only twelve episodes were produced, but the series has had a lasting and powerful influence on later shows. The show is set in a hotel named Fawlty Towers owned by Basil Fawlty (John Cleese) and his wife Sybil. They have a well-meaning waiter from Barcelona named Manuel and a loyal waitress named Polly.

And if you stretch it, this bit is actually about multilingualism as well...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Speaking about Hugh Laurie

Hugh Laurie (Dr House) is one of our favorites. If you're European you first got to know him through the TV-series Black Adder and Jeeves and Wooster (both British TV series - British humor is usually successful in Sweden for some reason...).

This year he was one of the presenters of the Emmys together with Hellen Mirren (also British as you know). Their presentation was probably even more funny for us Europeans who use to watch the Eurovision Song Contest each year...

And it's a little funny piece on multilingualism..

Why do they DO this!?

One thing I hate about American TV (besides the ridiculous amount of commercial breaks) is their "breaks". I.e suddenly, mid-season, there is an unexplained break of a series.

One of our favorite shows, House, had it's season premiere Tuesday. Only to return in THREE WEEKS? Don't you just hate that!

The networks sure counts on everyone's loyalty to come back and remember to tune in again.

Or maybe they know that no one is no longer watching live... We aren't .... we didn't watch Tuesday, we watched yesterday. We only watched recorded episodes and fast forward through the commercials.

Oh, well, we have to wait a couple of weeks to see our favorite M.D turn up on our recorder!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Sometimes I wish I was 8 ....

(only $5995 and needs a fork lift to install...).

A little Swedish place in paradise...

Some of the former Swedish kings were really warriors, conquering a lot of land in Northern Europe. But some were not as "great" and in the end we ended up with land only in the very northern part of Europe (that is if the Norwegian king isn't trying to take over using Google maps) where summers are short and winters are looooong.

One king (Gustav III) managed to, without even sending out warrior ship, get Sweden a little colony in the West Indies.

Now - how about that!! Pine trees vs palm trees!

And not just any place - but St Barth!

WHAT was the King Oscar II thinking that gave it away?? Hmpf.

(Picture from

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Beckham is moving to California!

I'm not a huge sports fan. But I've watched my fair of "Swedish" sports - soccer and ice hockey.

Soccer in the summer and ice hockey in the winter.

But American football and baseball is beyond me. Too long. Too complicated. Too much.

And since I married someone even less interested in sports than I, we don't even have any sports channels.

Today came the news that Beckham is moving to the US. Of course moving to LA. He didn't choose Salt Lake City or Kansas City (hm... maybe Posh had something to do with the choice??).

Anyway, it will be really interesting to see what this will do for soccer in the US. I don't think I've ever seen news about soccer here.

But that could also have to do with the fact that I only kind of look at the front page of the sports section for about 5 seconds each day.

A new word in English.... #2


It's a "skin-tight-one-piece garment that covers the torso and body but leaves the legs free" (Wikipedia). According to Norstedts English-Swedish dictionary it's translated as "gympingdräkt". Hm.

Well, I didn't do enough ballet in my youth to have picked up this word.

Having a girl toddler sure makes you pick up new things.

(picture from

Just as I was getting to know him...

... Bruce McPherson is no longer the Secretary of State in California.

Debra Bowen was sworn in a couple of days ago (you can actually watch her inauguration online on the California Secretary of State website...).

I wonder what will happen to my forms that I sent to Bruce McPherson... That's a lot of printed material that has to be re-printed...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I've been offlife, oups, I mean offline on and off all day today.

Isn't it amazing how important it is to be online nowadays. I feel like I'm cut off from life when I can't look out at the world from my internet window.

(or do I have a little addiction going on? naah!)

What did aliens pre-internet do?? Imagine to have to rely on USPS to communicate...

(Oh, and according to my cute geek husband, the internet is usually symbolized with a cloud. I think it should be the sun! Clouds do go away (like today), but the sun is always there... at least in California...)

Time for cake!

I'm having some friends over to help me finish the ice cream cake we got Friday from ColdStone Creamery.


They're huge however and with only two adults eating it - it sure takes time to finish... (And don't start about New Year's resolutions bla bla - they don't get into effect until February 1. At the earliest.)

And I really need that space in the freezer.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


California not only have a official state insect, we also have a state motto (just like every other state).

The Californian state motto is the Greek word "Eureka".

As in "I have found it"! (as perhaps, some say, in "I have found gold!").

Maybe I should start trying to exclaim now and then when needed. My daughter, who listens a bit too close sometimes, is saying "jäla skit" a little bit too much...

I kind of like "Eureka".

At least it's better than Maryland's ("Fatti maschii, parole femine" = "Manly deeds, womanly words") or Utah's ("Industry").

Monday, January 08, 2007

The California State Insect

I just learned today that California has a state insect.

It is not the black ant (which wouldn't be entirely inappropriate considering the amount of ants that attack your house in winter).

It's the "The California dogface butterfly". Or in Latin Zerene eurydice (has to be italics, Latin names are always in italics).

If "state insect" means that there are lots of them, ours sure is nicer than Texas'.

Their state insect is mosquito.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Who buys stuff at the pharmacy?

Sunday and "heavy newspaper day". I always check the pounds of ads for fun after reading the news.

I'm always amazed at the thick ads from stores like Rite-Aid, Walgreens and Longs.

These are officially pharmacies, but carry ALL kinds of stuff.

This is the place to go when you have to pick up your medication, take some passport photos, buy a portable CDplayer, flour, a gallon of milk, a new mascara and a new car battery and some other stuff you need.

And there everywhere!

Almost within walking distance (ie 2 minutes by car) we have a Longs, a Rite-Aid and two Walgreens (and then the food stores Bel-Air and Safeway that both have pharmacies).

That's a lot of pharmacies. And stuff.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Checked my "Norstedts Stora Svenska-Engelska" Dictionary to see if there is an official translation of this important Swedish word. It only says "Saturday Sweets", but I really wonder if it "Saturday Sweets" has the same meaning as "Lördagsgodis" for Swedish kids.

Or grown-ups...

It's Saturday and I wish I could run down to the local ICA and get a bag of "lördagsgodis"...

ALL kids in Sweden gets sweets/candy on Saturdays. Thus "Saturday sweets", or in Swedish "Lördagsgodis". Or used to at least. When I was a kid. Maybe that's not the "rule" anymore.

Anyway, about a year ago I suggested to one of the main producers of candy (the "pick n'mix" kind) in Sweden, Karamellkungen, that they should have an interactive function where you "fill a bag" with you favorite candy pieces on their website. As an alien, you could then send a copy of the list to some nice relative, friend or other nice person in Swedish who could get your favorites from the list and mail it over...

They responded "interesting suggestion".

Just checked.

No such feature yet.

Maybe Swedish aliens aren't the main marketing target group.

Anyway, here is my virtual bag of candy:

If only it was irl!

Friday, January 05, 2007

One of my favourite bridges!

We drove over a bridge today. A very small, bridge, but kind of nice. It's from the later 1800s. Or actually a modern replica.

Not too many bridges around here and it made me miss my bridges from "home".

Stockholm is built on 14 islands. And connected by about 40 bridges. Everywhere you go you have to cross a bridge.

Found a real nice, old picture of one of my favorite bridges.

Västerbron in Stockholm.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

It was raining today

Most of the year we don't see clouds. So when "winter" comes with clouds and rain (from the west...) now and then, we're actually kind of excited.

And the best thing with rain here is that it actually disappears. Not like in Sweden where in fall or spring (or winter these days of global warming) can rain for days.

That means that rain is actually... kind of cozy... you turn on the lights (might even consider to light one of the thousands of tea lights from IKEA) and listen to the soothing sound of rain on the roof.

Because you know that in an hour or two, it will all be gone.

The sun is always coming back in California!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The art of using headlights

Ok, so I might come from a place where the daylight is limited to 6 hours in December. But then Stockholm have 18 hours of daylight in June and it never gets really dark.

Everyone is using their headlights anyway.

It's the law and actually all cars are set to have the lights turned on automatically (can you actually turn them off??).

Here you use your headlights on a more voluntarily basis it seems. And if you do turn them on in daylight, you might seem a bit... alien...

Ever since I got here I've wondered about this. Why would you NOT want to have you're headlights turned on? Because....? I really don't know.

There is no way to identify if a car is moving or parked - they both have their headlights turned off.

According to DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) this is how you should use your headlights in California:

Use Your Headlights
• When it is cloudy, raining, snowing, or foggy. If weather conditions require you to use your windshield wipers, you must turn on your headlights.
• On frosty mornings when other drivers’ windows may be icy or “fogged.”

• Any time you have trouble seeing other cars. Other drivers will be having trouble seeing you, too.
• On small country or mountain roads, even on sunny days. This helps other drivers see you and may help you avoid a head-on crash.

• When necessary to get another driver’s attention.

Ok. No words about lights at night (but I think I've read somewhere you're suppoused to turn them on 30 minutes before sunset and can turn them off 30 minutes after sunrise, but maybe that's just a rumor...).

The one time I'm not being the reserved Swede - I want to be seen and all lights on me!

My visit to the Secretary of State

Today I had reason to file some documents with the Secretary of State in California. That's the authority where you file business documents, get forms - all the business entities you do in California.

For me, this is just a visit to an authority.


I've just visited Bruce McPherson's personal office. Or so it seems. Bruce McPherson is the Californian Secretary of State himself. His photo can be seen on the website - on the first page! It's quicker to get to his biography than it is to locate the address of the Business Programs Division. His name is printed on the pre-printed envelopes I got (is he really opening ALL the mail himself??) and he "signed" the filling of the documents (or at least I got his copied signature on the paperwork).

I'm kind of disappointed I didn't get to meet him in personal!

I've only lived in California so I have no idea if it's the same in the rest of the country. For a Swede this seems... hm... alien... A little too personal somehow... or am I only being typically Swedish....

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Snowy California

Unknown for me when I moved here was that I didn't have to give up making snow angels and sledging downhill (even though I wasn't going to miss it that much...)

There actually is snow in California.

Lots of it.

You just have to go to the right places. To the mountains. In a few hours you can go from sun to sun AND snow. That's what we did day before New Year's. To get a little dose of Christmas snow. After all, Bing Crosby sings about a White Christmas.

Now I've walked in more snow over Christmas than I would have had I been in Stockholm this year.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Empty highways...

Happy New Year! Gott Nytt År!

After yesterday's New Year's celebration sans fireworks outside but con falling ball on TV, we hit the roads to visit friends in Palo Alto, south of San Francisco.

Not only did we travel through some cool fog, almost making us think we were in a snowstorm in Sweden, we traveled on empty highways!

So maybe I have to take back my earlier post on the always busy American highways.

Want to practice driving on American highways with no other cars around and no traffic jams? Hit the road at 9 am on New Year's Day - and you have all lanes to yourself!