Thursday, May 31, 2007

Maybe next summer... ?

I'm shocked! It's 20 years ago! Twenty! My gosh. I'm getting old...

1987, the movie Dirty Dancing, premiered. I think I went to the movies to see it three times... Today I read that you can actually go to the "Kellerman's Resort" - it exists in real life, in North Carolina - called the Lake Lure Inn & Spa. You can stay in "Johnny's cabin" or "Baby's bungalow".

Maybe this will be our summer trip next year. At least the kids wouldn't be jet lagged. But I seriously doubt I would get the Husband to stay in the "Swayze Suite".

The brand Sweden

I read today that the brand Sweden is worth 464 billion dollars. On a list of 40 countries, Sweden is number 8. The brand "USA" is number one on the list and worth a bit more. 19 725 billion dollars. I really wonder how they calculate these numbers.

Sweden is "the USA of Scandinavia". What ever that means? I just wish Sweden would be closer to the US. At least in time difference. An hour or so is enough.

Jet lag living

Ok. Traveling alone alone with two kids across the world is nothing. Peanuts!

It ends after only 20something hours. Then it's over.

The jet lag however lasts forever... I'm on my fifth nigh with insomniac kids and no ease in sight. It doesn't matter that I'm a jet lag expert. My knowledge doesn't apply to kids. I've heard rumors that there are kids that are not jet lagged. Mine are not among them.

I can confirm that the sun rises at 3.49 am in Stockholm now.

I'm usually fully awake then.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Observations from Sweden #2

The Daughter is born in California and this is her third trip to Sweden (the second that she can remember). She is very excited, especially to get to play with her grandparents whom she usually only speak to on the phone.

She has made some interesting observations, being a mini-alien.
  • "Grandmom, did you hear, the girl could speak Swedish", after going through check out at the grocery store.
  • "Who is that talking all the time?", not used to have the radio turned on with people talking.
  • "I want to watch TV later", not really understanding that the kid's program, is on at 5.30 pm and when it's over it's over, there is no non-stop PBS Sprout.
  • "It's tricky to walk here", stumbling around in the un-even nature, full of tree roots and wooden sticks.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Swedish strawberries

The kids are completely jet lagged. Completely. The nine hour time difference between California and Sweden is hard to handle when you're a kid.

Good thing the mom can have small, sweet, Swedish strawberries to cheer herself up after yet another night with two insomniacs. It makes it all worth it.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The reward...

I made it.

This was my reward. Clear, blue, summer sky. Sun. +22C. A perfect, glorious, wonderful, fantastic Swedish summer day.

The boat is on it's way to pick us up. We're staying in one of the houses on the island on the other side of the water for five weeks. Now I'm going to recover and not think about airplanes until July 1.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

864 hours vs 41

I'm going to spend 864 hours in Sweden. In that perspective, the 41 hours total I will spend traveling there and back is peanuts. Don't you think? Should be easy. Quick. No problem.

At least I will have 864 hours to recover before the return...

I'm on my way to Stockholm!

Photo: Olof Holdar - Stockholm Visitors Board

Friday, May 25, 2007

How can they fly an airplane?

Sometimes, when fighting, whining, almost screaming on the phone with airlines or at the check-in counters at airports trying to get seats next to my kids when we have been seated apart, I wonder to myself: how can they managed to fly complicated aircrafts, navigate through the air with advanced systems, and not be able to assign seats to passengers in a efficient way?

Sometimes this makes me a bit scared.

I mean, how hard can it be. The service they sell to passengers are seats. Passengers traveling together want to sit next to each other. We've given up getting food or any other kind of services. But a pre-assigned seat next to our kids would be... nice (especially if you have to pay full price and an over price just because the airlines want to make a lot of money off you since it's summer and they know you want to travel).

What kind of old, weird, outdated seat assignment software do they have? And do they have the same, old, weird, outdated software for the rest of their aircraft management??

And, when reading Ing's comment on my post below, I really start to wonder - WHAT would have happened had she NOT fought and screamed to get seats next to her kids? What if she had just given up? What kid of safety is that to have minors sitting by themselves? Or are you as a passenger traveling on your own responsible to take care of other passenger's kids if they happened to be seated next to you?

Maybe next time they think the kids should be seated on their own somewhere, I should just be cool, put my kids in their seats and then call for the the flight attendants, "ok, now their your responsibility, please make sure they don't eat peanuts". Just to see what happens.

This was Ing's comment:

JaCal, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that SAS keeps flying across the Atlantic.

Also, excuse my foul language, but this whole thing with not having guaranteed seats next to your kids is absolutely f-ing ridiculous!! Almost two years ago, I traveled alone to Sweden with my kids, the youngest one was 8 months, the other two were 2 and 4 years. When I booked the tickets I made sure that we had seats next to each other and I made sure that I had it in writing - it was on the itinerary.

First flight, to Chicago, was fine. But in Chicago they told me that we don't have seats next to each other. "Yes we do," I said and showed them the magic paper. "No, you don't," they persisted. "Your seats have been changed."

Then followed half an hour of discussing, pleading, begging and finally, more or less yelling. In the end I simply said something to the effect that, well, you know what, then you're going to have to take responsibility for my two older ones. If I have to sit two aisles down from them with a baby in my lap, I sure can't do it. I can't keep them entertained, I can't stop them from kicking the seats in front of them, I can't help them balance their food trays, and I can't make them stop fighting, whining, or crying or doing any of the million little things kids on a long flights tend to do. So either the flight crew are going to have to do all that, or you put me in a seat next to them.

In the end I got the seats, but if you're not guaranteed to sit next to your small children, how on earth are you supposed to be able to fly alone with them??? And are there not safety issues - who will help them with gas masks if we need them? Or putting on life jackets? Or simply keep them from running around in the aisles, making everyone's life a misery?


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Waiting for Harry Potter

I admit it. I'm a Harry Potter fan, despite being long since past the target reader group age... (and yes, I was there, outside Borders at midnight two years ago when book #6 was released... me and all the pre-teens... just for the fun of it). I just love Rowling's fantasy and the whole story about a second wizard world. I read my first Harry Potter in the summer of 2000, my first summer here. I had seen it in the book store and just wondered what all the fuzz was about and decided to find out and I was hooked.

I just read that they have decided the Swedish title of the new Harry Potter book, coming this summer. I've only read Harry Potter in English. But sometimes I'm curious to see how all of Rowling's fantastic words would be translated to the, sometimes pretty narrow Swedish language... The title "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" has been translate to "Harry Potter och dödsrelikerna". I don't know, but I think some of the magic will have to get lost in the translation.

I haven't decided if I will wait outside Borders on July 21 this year, or let FedEx deliver my book (like I did with book #5). I'm going to be busy that weekend however...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

And I'm not alone...

When I travel this upcoming weekend, I will not be alone. 5 million Californians (that's more than half of Sweden's population!) will hit the road. It's Memorial Weekend, one of few "long" weekends in this country. Most of them will go by car. But many by air. So I won't be alone...

They're already warning of long lines through security. Great... I wonder if you have to remove the shoes of a 10 month old??

Oh, well. SAS has now confirmed that I'm seated next to my kids. Very nice of them (although for +$4000 you would think that seats next to each other would be included in the price and not after fighting, calling, whining and working hard...).

Now we need to see if there are any SAS flights on Saturday. The SAS strike is getting closer and will start on Friday if negotiations are not effective. That means no Swedish domestic SAS flights, hardly no European SAS flights. They claim that the US and other international flights won't be effected...

I have to focus on the smell of lilacs to get me through the weekend...

A million gadgets...

I thought it was the Husband who was the gadget freak in the family. But when done packing my hand luggage I realize I'm not far behind...

Besides all the stuff you need to move two kids across the world, my bags contain; a laptop, an extra battery for the laptop, a compact camera, a SLR camera, , a SLR flash, an iPaq, an iPod with the headset, a USB stick memory, and two cell phones. (and these things comes with two sets of cords each - the charger and the connector (but they have to ride in the suitcases, thank you very much)). And this does not include the daughter's V.Smile and music/story player.

Soon I have to get an extra seat for all the stuff... or at least a seat for another grown-up who can carry half of it.

(As of today, Wednesday, I have two confirmed seats together for the kids on the SAS flight Chicago-Stockholm, however SAS can't reserve my seat next to the kids, even though it's unoccupied according to their systems (??), but they have requested that SAS in Chicago (??) should do that on Saturday... maybe I should hope for a separate seat and someone else can entertain my kids on the 9 hour flight?).

Swedes going to the US

According news in Sweden, it's really "hot" spend you're vacation in the US this summer. 16,8% more Swedes will go to the US this year compared to last year. One reason being the low dollar exchange rate (I wonder what my ticket would have cost had I flown the other way...). One other reason is said to maybe be the increased number of flights to the US from Sweden.

I wonder if there will ever be a direct flight from Stockholm to San Francisco again. I don't care about the tourists, I just want a good "bus" line!

Now the article doesn't say in numbers how many Swedes travel to the US (and since there's only 9 million of us, it can't be enormous amount of Swedish tourists we're talking about) , but if you feel like you're city has been invaded by people speaking like the Swedish Chef in the Muppet Show, it's only visiting Swedish aliens...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

4th of July with Barbara...

One of my favorite voices is Barbara Streisand. Oh, how I wished I could sing like that...

I've always wanted to hear her live. She hardly does concerts (and if she does you have to pay half a fortune for the tickets).

Of course she is in Stockholm this summer. Of course three days after I leave. With my non-anything tickets and kids that will long for their dad so bad by then after five weeks in Sweden.

But wouldn't that have been a fun 4th of July. Listening to Barbara in Globen in Stockholm. I wonder if she would sing the national anthem...

Monday, May 21, 2007

One week to go...

The minor crisis has started... my C-drive on my computer is suddenly almost full. This has never happened before. But of course it's going to happen now, with less than a week until I'm leaving.

The SAS staff is going on strike on Friday, but claiming it won't affect the US flights. We'll see about that... My travel agency keep ignoring my e-mails on my seating problems (of course we're not seated together...).

And today is Monday. Anything can happen...

At least my bags are already packed.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A long way from Donkey Kong

I got a Donkey Kong game when I was in middle school. I was so cool! (probably the only cool thing I had) I still have it. In it's original box.

Today we decided to give the 3,5 year old a V smile pocket (after all it is 4,5+9 hours of flying o Sweden, and a five our stop over on in Chicago on our way back... and mom is getting nervous about entertainment).

Things have progressed a bit since the Donkey Kong time...

Rumor has it that we will be able to find Swedish preschool games for the V smile in Sweden, thus an additional reason for the purchase. You have to take all chances to push Swedish these days.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Swedish chatt night

While the Husband took off for a weekend in Lake Tahoe with some friends, I had a Swedish friend as a house guest (married to one of the friends also in Lake Tahoe).

Gosh, it's so nice sometimes to spend an evening chatting in your own language, letting down your guard. Just talking without thinking (the Husbands might still think it was mostly mumbo jumbo, but then who cares about them). To just "float" around in Swedish.

Even though we must admit, we blend English words into the conversation a lot... since both our daily activities takes place in an English speaking world, and sometimes it's just faster to use the English word than finding the Swedish word.

A great Saturday evening!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Long distances

My grandmother passed away last fall. She had just celebrated her 80th birthday, a very happy day. She had been surrounded by her four daughters, grandchildren, brother, and other family members.

I wasn't there.

I had just had my son, and traveling was decided against.

Two weeks later her heart decided it was time to stop beating. Nothing would have changed had I been closer to where she lived, but it was painful to be so far away.

I traveled across the world with my infant son, to the village in the northern part of Sweden where she was born, to attend the funeral and say good bye.

Today was the interment. And once again, I was far away, only participating through phone calls and seeing the pictures afterwards. I know she knows I was "there". But still.

Sometimes it's hard being an alien.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Packing bags...

It is more than a week until I'll get on that long trip to Sweden. But I know exactly what's going to happen next week - there will be at least on major crisis at work, at least one kid will get sick, some government institution needs some paper work right away, the car will break down, and so on.

After my last horrible flight, then with only one kid, this time with two, I know that the trick for success is "pre-sleeping". So that's what I plan to do next week. Sleep. Not pack bags.

Packing bags for five weeks in Sweden in June, staying in the summer house on an island in the the archipelago, is not easy. Besides hanging out in the island, I'm going to work downtown and having meetings in the office a couple of days a week , we're going to visit friends all over the city, we'll go to Gröna Lund, check out the moose at Skansen and take the bus to other places.

So I need proper clothes for work, and really casual things for the island living, and semi-casual for visits.

The weather might be +11C or +30C. It might be cold and windy or just plain warm and sunny. It might rain and be freezing (for someone that come from California) in the morning and be sunshine in the afternoon.

You need shorts, rain boots, swimsuits and a warm jacket.

So far I've packed 3 suitcases. And I'm still planning on doing washes every week.

It sure is easier to pack for five weeks in California in June. It will be sun, warm, sun and hot.

No, nothing in the morning papers

Mr Reinfeldt's visit to California left no marks in the Californian news media. At least the ones I've been covering.

Not even the Governor's own website mentions him. A search for "Reinfeldt" gives 0 hits.

Oh, well. According to the Swedish newspapers the Governor has been invited to Sweden to stay at the Icehotel by the Swedish Prime Minister... Too bad we had the delta breeze yesterday and it was pretty nice around here, he should have offered the Governor the invitation on a 110F day...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Picture proof... Reinfeldt was here!

If this picture in one of the major Swedish newspapers is not made in PhotoShop it seems that Mr Reinfeldt really was here today. It's the first picture I have seen.

(I thought Mr Reinfeldt was tall. But it seems he is the same height as The Governor. Or is Arnold standing on a foot stool?)

And look! They have found a Swedish flag! Maybe they borrowed it from IKEA in West Sac?

A Swedish - Californian meeting...?

According to Swedish news, the Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt actually met Governor Schwarzenegger today. According to Californian media, so far, they haven't mentioned Mr Reinfeldt even once. None of the evening news mentioned this important visit.

The major news around here is the two whales who took the wrong turn somewhere around the Golden Gate Bridge and ended up in the delta outside of Sacramento, the capitol of California and where the Governor works.

The whales' visit was a bigger news story than a Swedish Prime Minister. Hundreds of people gathered to see the whales. So far I haven't even seen a picture of Mr Reinfeldt and Mr Schwarzenegger together...

Non offense taken. After all Sweden is tiny. Not in terms of size (it's actually has pretty much the same area as California and the same shape), but in terms in population. And influence (even though I think that Swedes would like to think (hope?) we have a significant effect on the surrounding world...). And it's far away (I wonder if Mr Reinfeldt has to take the SAS flight SK945 from Chicago back to Stockholm... sitting waiting at gate 15... or if he has his own plane??).

But there are pretty many Swedish aliens in California and it would have been fun for us if the Prime Minister's visit would have been more visible. Not even the Swedish consulates in Los Angeles or San Francisco mentions his visit on their web pages (... but the SF consulate mentions that the Collegium Cantorum Chamber Choir is on tour in the San Francisco Bay Area right now....).

Oh, well, maybe the morning paper will mention it...

A Prime Minster and a Governor

Today, according to Swedish newspapers, the Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, will visit the capitol of California, Sacramento, and say hello to the Californian governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger (whose name I still, despite a couple of years as a governor and as an actor before that, have to check the spelling of...).

I haven't seen anything about this meeting on the news here. Or in the papers. Or on the Governor's website. And actually the press release on the Swedish government's website doesn't mention the visit either (it was some sort of a last minute visit). According to that the Prime Minister is in Colorado today.

But since the newspaper usually have it right (I hope) I guess this meeting will take place today. Sweden meets California. Officially.

I wonder if I should take a trip to the Capitol with a Swedish flag? One single person celebrating this big meeting... ?

(the pictures above are the "official" pictures - don't you think that the Governor picture look a tiny bit more... hm... "governing-like").

(Picture of Fredrik Reinfelt by Pawel Flato)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mumbo jumbo...

Or something like it. That was what came out of my mouth at my meeting with my CPA* today. She is really nice and great at explaining complicated tax rules and retirement plans and in plain English. But when English is your second language it still gets hard... My tounge felt huge and my brain was over heating when finding the words for "pensionsavsättningar" (retirement payments?) and "fyllnadsinbetalningar" (estimated taxes?).

Today was one of those days I wanted to hit ctrl+alt+del on myself and just start over. Gosh, I sounded like an... alien... You should see my notes, they're a complete mishmash of Swedish and English that I'm not sure even I can understand...

And we didn't even get to talk about spools of threads.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A new word in English... #4

My daughter is bilingual. Swedish is still her dominant language, but English is coming strong. She loves to do English speaking "sessions" with me, practicing sort of. "Let's speak English for a while, mom" she says (we always speak Swedish with her).

She loves to take her little brother's baby books with lots of pictures , point and say the word in English, very proud when she knows them. If she doesn't know or can't remember, she'll look at me, expectingly. And I've started to realize that her little brain will be a much better storage place for new, specific English words than mine....

Today she didn't know the English word for "trådrulle". It was there, in the book, in the color red. She looked at me and I was lost. I didn't know the word either. And to tell your daughter to "wait, mom just have to get the dictionary or go online" is too slow for a 3,5 year old. I suggested we should turn the page and check out some other words...

Now I know.

Trådrulle = cotton reel or reel of cotton, according to my dictionary.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

New postal rates... I think.

Tomorrow the postal rates will change in the US. I have missed this completely. I just happened to stumble on the news when checking, my way to find out if something has happened in this country after a day without radio or TV or friends stopping by.

Now I've spent more than 10 minutes on the United States Postal Services website to figure out if and how this effects the few letters I'm sending out into the world. And I still have no clue. If it takes more than 10 minutes it's TOO COMPLICATED.

I normally really like the USPS (or actually our local post office, the clerks are so cute and so seriously into this postal thing). But maybe it's just Sunday...

It seems to have something about the size of the letter/package you're sending. And then I will get problems. I just absolutely can not get this inch thing. Oh, well. Good thing they have these very educational pictures to guide you through how to calculate the postage.

In Sweden the postal rate is the same, no matter the size. The only thing they care about is the destination and the weight. That's why all my square shaped invitations to a birthday party two years ago was returned to sender. I had no idea you needed different stamps for a letter-sized and a square-sized envelope...

Too much ice?

I've written about ice before, about the Americans love for ice. And I normally don't mind ice, even though I sure could live with out it.

It's kind of nice to order a cold Italian Raspberry Soda at Border's Cafe after a walk in the +30C heat (my limit is +33C, if the temperature is above that, then I stay in the cool AC air...).

But sometimes you quietly wonder... is there something as too much ice...?

I always order a large. But I'm almost done after 4-5 sips (with the mandatory straw...). It seems a large Italian Raspberry Soda is probably 10% soda and 90% ice.

Next time I'll ask for one without ice. I wonder if I have to pay more...

2 x Mother's Day

By definition I can now be celebrated on Mother's Day. I am a mother. And as I'm an alien mother I can be celebrated twice. Today, on the American Mother's Day and on the Swedish Mother's Day in two weeks. Actually the day I will arrive to Sweden.

Not that I really know what you are suppoused to do on Mother's Day. None in the family hasn't gotten really used to it yet (including me, who sometimes still have to remind myself that I am a fact a mother to someone).

But I got a self made card this morning with my 3-year old's cute letters, stating "Min bästa mamma" ("my best mom"). And the Husband made scones for breakfast. Very, very nice!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Crisp bread and berries?

Today when I picked up some more crisp bread at Safeway, they had changed the design of the box.

Check it out below - that are berries on the light rye!

Now here is something an experienced crisp bread eater like me have never, ever thought about. Eggs, yes. Cold potatoes, yes. Cheese, well of course! But berries on your crisp bread?

Now I'm really curious... I have to try this. Feels a bit... hm... weird with berries - but it sure looks kind of yummy on the picture.

I wonder if they have the same picture of the light rye box in Sweden? I have to check that out in two weeks.

Friday, May 11, 2007

My evaluation of online web albums...

Ok, now I've tested to share pictures using Google's Picasa and Yahoo's Flickr. I really would like to have a web album feature to share more pictures (than to have to upload pictures to Blogger which is slow if you share more than a few pictures).

And the winner is... ?

Well, it really depends on how you want to share pictures and what you want to do with your albums.

Flickr has a lot of features and things you can do (like add tags, make sets, make multi captions). Flickr is it's own community, a real, huge photo community and very advanced. It really is The Photo place.

Picasa is simpler, not as many features and you have to add captions picture by picture. If you use Blogger, you only have to log in once with your Google account and it's all there. Picasa will also organize the pictures you've already added to your blog (if you use Blogger).

To create a web album for the first time with a few pictures, add captions, change the order, and publish them on the blog (like my Californian Road-trip album or my Lake Tahoe in Winter-album) took with Picasa just a few minutes. Easy, simple, never had to wonder how to do it. With Flickr I had to work harder, check the help section a few times, had to update the html-code a couple of times until I got it the way I wanted. It took maybe 20 minutes.

I'll have to think about which one I'll continue to use. I'm leaning towards Picasa... Or maybe both, but for different purposes...

Trying out Flickr...

Ok, yesterday I tried out Picasa, sharing some Californian pictures. Today I decided to try out Flickr, and keep sharing some Californian pictures, today from Lake Tahoe. They're taken pre-SLR camera, from a gondola and a plane, but they give you a little idea what is is like to go to the top of the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe in winter.

And I've learned to use Flickr. Sort of... hm.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Trying out Picasa...

I decided I should learn how Google's web album Picasa works and how you can use it when blogging. It actually wasn't too hard, and you can upload five pictures at once and writing captions wasn't too time consuming either. I had hoped you would see all the pictures here in this post, but Blogger just links the to the actual Picasa album... You have to click on it to get to the pictures in the album.

Oh, well, now I know how it works and you will see some California pictures!

A California Roadtrip

Got to win the lottery...

You would think that $4000+ would get you something when it comes to flying. But I'm still going to be in the very back of the plane with limited leg room and non-reclinging seats when I fly to Sweden with the kids in two weeks.

Maybe I should have left the kids at home and bought a ticket with BAs new Club World... Not only would I be able to lie down, I would have my own 10 inch digital screen, and an in-seat power socket.

And I would get a pair of slippers.

But then, how lonely I would be without the company of the kids...

A jingle that brings back memories...

This jingle* sure brings back memories... sitting in one of the old, beautiful movie theaters in downtown Stockholm (where you get your seating when buying the ticket, no free seating in a Swedish movie salon!). Actually, until just a few years, there were hardly any movie theaters outside the downtown area - unlike here - where the cinema complexes are where people live, usually where there is a shopping mall...

You had been there long before the movie started. Not to get a good seat (you already had your assigned seat printed on your ticket), but to watch the commercials... (since until the late 80s/early 90s there were no TV channels with commercials in Sweden).

I never thought I say that, but I can actually miss the movie commercials here - where they mostly have silly, extremely boring, still picture slide shows from local venues with really bad background music before the movie starts... And sometimes you have to sit through it, not by choice, but in order to secure a good seat, since there are no preassigned seats, only "free seating".

I haven't been to the movies in several years in Sweden, so I don't know if they still show commercials before the movie... But I think that SF, Svensk Filmindustri, still has the same jingle for their movies...

(* This is the "sound" of the Svensk Filmindsutri, is Sweden's the major company for film producation and the distribution of cinema in Sweden... this sound can be heard before the movie starts...)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

My favorite podcast right now

If you see a blond, tall woman, walking irrationally and giggling in a store or on a sidewalk somewhere in Northern California, that is probably me. You might not see the white iPod headset under my long hair, but it's there and my head is filled with the silly thoughts from the "Spanarna".

Spanarna is a weekly Swedish radio show, going on 20 years, and it's talk radio when it's as funny as it can get. Not political and serious like most talk radio over here. Just interesting and funny.

Right now it's my favorite podcast on my iPod (all those years without Swedish radio!) and I take every chance to turn it on when outside the house and I'm on my own and don't have to behave as a responsible mother. Though I'm getting worried about my reputation... maybe I should limit listening to Spanarna when behind the typical American high wooden fences surrounding our house... or people might think I'm an.... hm... alien?

(Picture of the "spanare" from

Visual DNA

Annika had an interesting thing on her blog today, I just had to test it myself! Don't now how accurate the analysis is, but, I loved the photos you had to choose from!

So this is my visual DNA....


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Taking a cruise to Stockholm?

Imagine how cool it would be to return home to Stockholm by ship! For once not having to arrive at Arlanda's terminal F, wait forever for your bags, and then fight with the "non-serious" taxidrivers to catch a "real" taxi to downtown Stockholm (since you always have way too many bags to even consider taking the very quick train). Not having to spend 45 minutes (or more depending on traffic) on the highway before arriving downtown, but to actually arrive in the middle of the action!

Almost like a "reverse emigrant" (even though few "emigrant ships" to America left from downtown Stockholm...).

I wonder what kind of cruise ticket you'll get for $4327...

Anyway... according to a Swedish news article today about this summer's "invasion of cruise ships" , the little ship "The Navigator of the Seas" will stop by in Stockholm this summer (as will 259 other cruise ships, bringing an estimated 290 000 passengers).

And I will arrive at Arlanda, terminal F...

(Picture of the Navigator of the Seas from

Jury duty!

I got a jury summons today. Flashes from movies came flying by... and mystery books... What would it be like to actually be a jury member in real life? What trial would I end up in? Murder? Or parking violations?

Well, I will never find out, since I'm not an American citizen, I'm instantly disqualified.

I'm not too sad.

There will still be movies and books about jury duty. And I would have had to report to the court in early June. Which is when I've paid half a fortune to fly to Sweden. I would not have been happy to have to cancel that (and still pay half a fortune since the tickets are non-anything)...

Monday, May 07, 2007

I just read a wonderful book.

I found it Friday night. And I just finished it. And I just had to write about it here.

I saw the book in the corner of my eye, when quickly passing by the bookshelves at Target of all places (I was there for Lego not books...). The title was "Astrid and Veronika". Now here is a title that sure sounded Swedish somehow. The author's name is Linda Olsson, and sure enough, she is Swedish (but now an alien in New Zealand). I put the book on top of the Lego boxes, drove home, and started reading that night.

The book is about the friendship that grows between Veronika, a young Swedish writer, arriving to Sweden from New Zealand who never had had a real home, and her elderly, reclusive neighbor Astrid who never have left the village. They start to share their stories and secrets... It's a about life, love, decisions, loss and friendship.

It's a wonderful and strange feeling to read a book so Swedish, but written in English (it was translated to Swedish when published in Sweden as "Nu vill jag sjunga dig milda sånger"). Linda Olsson writes in the "Conversation with the author" in the back of the Penguin paperback that "the reviews in New Zealand often mentioned that my language sounded 'Scandinavian' " and that she perhaps "write in Swedish even when I write in English".

I had never heard about it, but it was very well received in Sweden last fall and it was released in the US in February.

Linda Olsson was a "sommarpratare" 2006 - talking about chronically longing for "home" and living abroad, far from family and friends and have your heart on lot's of different places. Download the podcast to your player and take a walk and listen, or pour some coffee , lean back and listen by your computer. I just love her voice, stories and she talks about things so familiar... If you're a Swedish alien - you just have to listen!

I hope you enjoy the book and the radio program as much as I did!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Walk fast in Stockholm!

According to a new study, you have to walk pretty fast in Stockholm to fit in. People in Stockholm come in at 17th place when the walking speed was measured. New Yorkers are faster (8th place), but the people in Singapore are the fastest!

In my Californian city the would probably not be able to measure the walking speed. Not to many people walking around here.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


That's the amount of money it takes to take me, an infant and a child with me from California to Stockholm at the end of May (return in July is included...) (but the tickets are non-refundable, non-changeable, non-anything and we should say thank you if they actually include a little food in the price).

On top of the hole in my wallet, United has decided to cancel the 3 pm flight we usually connect to in Chicago during the summer months (they only charge twice as much more for flying but have less connections... great strategy... for the airline).

So I'm now looking forward (not) to a 5 hour stop over at O'Hare on our return. This is after our 9 hour flight from Stockholm. Probably arriving at our house at 9 pm PT, which will be something like exactly 24 hours after we began.


Need to work on that plan to move Sweden closer to California.

And foucs on the "syréner".

SF or LA?

Ok... hm... should we take the left lanes and go to San Francisco or the right lane and go to Los Angeles. These hard questions...

Friday, May 04, 2007

TGF! Time for "mys"!

I know it was just a few days since last "Sveriges Näringsliv", but it IS Friday and it IS time for "mys"!

(Thanks "Farmom" for the tip!)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

"Cooler" weather

We're having a couple of days with "cooler" weather right now. The "" because it really depends on what you compare with... +22C would probably be considered as pretty nice back in Stockholm. Here I made sure the kids had socks and long sleeves today (I almost brought out the hats, but decided that they would survive the cold without them).

In July, when the heat is really bad here, I will be cold when the temperature in the house is below +27C. I will bring a sweater when I'm shopping (especially if I have to pass by the dairy section... brr).

But you do sort of get used to the heat.

I remember my first summer here. I went to the mall one day. +41C outside. I was sitting in my air condtitioned car, looking astonished at people walking from the car to the mall as things were absolutely normal. I wasn't sure I dared open the car door. +41C. It's like a cooler sauna!! Without the cold lake to jump in (naked of course)!!

I can't say that I jump around with joy during those crazy 100F-weeks, but they're part of everyday life now.

It's just a bit "different". I don't have to heat up the car before getting in. I have to cool it down.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

What people are wearing in Stockholm...

This is no fashion blog (heck, I have written about crocs!). I'm no frequent visitor on fashion blogs. But when I read the major Swedish newspaper online today, and saw that even they had a feature on what people are wearing in downtown Stockholm, I realized that maybe I have to keep better track of these blogs.

In three weeks I'm going to be there, and WHAT if I meet someone from StockholmStreetStyle when downtown?? Completely out of tune on what you should be wearing in Stockholm...

JaCal: Wearing crocs, capri jeans and a white Gap top... (with added sweet potato stains)??

Oh, my.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A walk to WorldMarket

World Market is a store that is a little heaven for aliens. They have all sorts of stuff - kitchen utensils, home decoration stuff, toys, a large selection of wine and beer from around the world - as well as food and candy!

I'm lucky to have a World Market within walking distance. So when I'm in need I can take a quick walk up there to get...

Swedish Fish (even though $6.99 is a rip off!)

Knäckebröd (even though the actually have this at Safeway...)

My favorite "cookie" HobNobs (actually originally British)

And when I'm too lazy to drive to IKEA - my second chocolate favorite
- the Dutch Droste chocolate!