Sunday, August 31, 2008


I sure would like a beam machine. But while waiting for someone to invent it for real - I'm stuck with United and SAS and stop overs at at O'Hare. I travel pretty often to Sweden for work, and once I arrive I just want to get to a bed and go to sleep (my best way to beat jet lag - and trust me - I've tried it all...). But at the same time, it sometimes feels a bit sad that I'm always passing these friends and family members standning there waiting for their loved ones arrival, with anticipation and happy smiles. I have to navigate my cart through them, and leave on my own to the taxi stand and head for downtown.

After I took my long nap (more like a short night), I tried to hit a few stores before they all close down at 5 pm on Sundays. Sometimes the transition is too fast - my mind and soul is still on the other side of the Atlantic - I try to start up conversations i English (really embarrassing...) and find myself chit chatting happily with sales clerks (they think I'm really embarrassing).

Oh well. I'm home. Until I go home on Sunday.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


I have to do a little 8-day trip to Sweden for work. Since I'm traveling by myself, I'm traveling light.

Or... trying too.

Part from the office clothes (I'm actually looking forward to wearing long pants... today we hit 104F here...), toiletries and a work files (yes, I actually do have some old fashioned papers!), my suitcase is filled with... gadgets... and cords... I have always claimed it's my Husband who is the geek in the family... but I guess I come in on the top list too...

And even though I'm really trying to integrate all my stuff, and try only to use gadgets that use standard mini-usb cords and so on... it still adds up.

  • Laptop
  • Camera
  • iPod
  • Cellphones * 2 (Blackberry (my American cellphone) and Qtek (my Swedish cellphone))
  • Livescribe pen (my new cool gadget)
  • USB-battery to charge my iPod (and Blackberry if I get stuck in an airport) on long flights

Cords and chargers:
  • Mini usb-cord (to charge the Blackberry and download pictures from the camera)
  • iPod usb cord (to charge the iPod)
  • Qtec usb cord (to charge my Swedish cellphone)
  • USB charger + converter (to use with all the USB cords above when not using my computer)
  • Laptop power cord
  • Converter plug (so I can charge my laptop in the US and in Sweden)
  • Headset (so I can use my Skype while on the road)
  • Handsfree * 2 (for Blackberry and Qtec - don't yet have usb-charged bluetooth handsfree and don't want to bring more chargers...)
  • Livescribe connector (so I can download my notes)
  • Livescribe headphones (so I can record while taking notes)
  • Camera charger
  • Mouse
Traveling in 2008.

Friday, August 29, 2008

It sure is going to be an interesting fall

Ok, I'm not really a very political person. I have my viewpoints and thoughts for sure - but it's not one of my major interests. But living in the US right now, there is no way you can avoid the upcoming presidental election.

I sure wonder about this vice president stuff. How come the main candidate is scrutinized and questioned and - elected - during months and months during the primaries. Is this person the best to be the candidate for the job as the President of the United States according to the voters.

And then, the vice president, the second in rank to is just communicated, without the public scrutinize and the long process. I see the point that the potential President perhaps should be choosing her or his running partner - but - if the worst should happen, the vice president is supposed to take over the job, with the polictics and viewpoints this person brings to the table. Why shouldn't it be any of the nominee candidates that has been running for president, put in a lot of effort - and has been answering questions on their political views for months?

Oh, well. Maybe it's just me being Swedish, coming from a country where electing someone on a more "personal basis" than a "political party basis" is still a very new phenomena.

I really like that McCain choose a woman, Sarah Palin, as his running partner - even though I admit - I have never heard her name (this is a HUGE country, lots of news and people to keep track off...). For the first time ever, the presidential election is not going to about be old, white men in suits that will do negative ads about each other...

This sure will be an interesting fall in terms of politics in this country...

A screen dump of the CNN Live stream I'm watching on my screen as I'm working by my desk - a great way to get the major news. Sometimes these are really live streams where you see everything from a specific place and don't have to see the talking heads back and forth in the studio. Don't know if you can see it on the international version of, but on the US edition you can see what's being broadcast live in the upper right corner. It's an interesting ways to really get live reports.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What a show, oups, I mean political convention

So tonight was the night for Barack Obama - he is now officially the Democratic presidential candidate. I came in late - his speech was in the middle of bedtime routines California time. So the first thing I watched, using CNN's livestream, was the ending - the tons of confetti, the fireworks, the up beat music, the flags and banners and crying people. If turned on the TV, and you didn't know what was on - and if you were from somewhere else - I'm not sure you would immediately connect that this was a political convention...

They sure can make shows, these Americans. Even a politcal convention is a pretty cool event.

So after I've watched the grand finale of the convention, I listened to the speeches. In one of the after talk show interviews on CNN, one republican observer said (of course a tiny bit biased perhaps...) that Obama's speech should have an C - mostly because he looked so angry - after a convention that had been so much about hope. I watched a sound bite with the sound turned off - and maybe he looked a little angry - or maybe concerned or maybe he was just overwhelmed by the hugeness of it all? After all there might have been 85 000 people watching him live in the arena Invesco Field in Denver, Colorado... Not a very ordinary audience size for a senator...

Tomorrow we'll know who the Republican candidate McCain's running mate will be. The next few days we will probably start seeing bumper stickers, signs on people's front yards for the two different teams. Then it will all escalate the next 10 weeks until the election...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My new tool... or toy...

About a half a year ago the Husband, my favorite geek, got a Logitech-pen that can transfer notes on paper to digital notes and I was kind of envious. The special paper was really expensive and the software didn't really work too good.

Now a new version of the same technique has been released by a company called Livescribe - selling the pen through Target and Amazon and their own website. And since they now have blank, unlined paper I just had to get one.

This pen is sooooo cool. Actually, the base is a Swedish invention - the company Anoto invented the technique. You can use the pen to take notes and record the conversation that was going on when you took the notes - or the seminar you were listening to - and then the notes and the audio is synced. And you can just transfer your notes to your laptop and immediately get a digital copy that you can share. For me who does a lot of mind-mapping and sketches when working - this is totally awesome.

Now I just have to learn how this little computer pen actually works...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Summer song...

Our new car has Sirius satellite radio installed and paid for for 12 months - and I love it. I have had a hard time finding radio stations that I like here - and I love commercial free radio and the option of real news programs.

I've have mostly tuned into the Sirius Hits channel - trying to keep up with the top songs... realizing that I know most of the songs from the late 80s/early 90s by heart, but hardly recognize any of the top 40 artists...

The last couple of weeks, one of the most played songs on the Hits channel is Kid Rock's "All summer long". If you haven't heard it, don't turn on the video below - this song gets stuck in your head weather you like it or not... the official video is filled with half naked women... so the responsible mom in me is linking to this concert version instead...

And yes, we still have summer here... we have a couple of +100F (more than +37C) days coming up and right now, at 11.45 pm, we have +22C... So a summer song still applies...

Monday, August 25, 2008


Ok, so I don't like spiders. At all. I don't dislike them enough to take one of those "loose your fears and hug them" sessions - but close enough.

For almost a year when I still lived in Stockholm as a singleton, the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet had an ad on the front page from some computer company with a very good picture of a spider, it looked as if it was crawling across the front page. The company was some sort of a server company and probably thought that a spider was a good way to illustrate the "webs" that could be created using their product or services (and thereby excluding all potential customers with spider fears).

This was a major problem for me - every morning I had to close my eyes when I took the newspaper out of the mailbox in the door, and quickly rip of the corner with the spider, from the other side, crumple the piece and throw it away. If something important was printed on the other side - too bad - I never read it. It got almost to the point when I though about canceling the subscription - it was too much of a stress moment in the morning... So you see - spiders (even printed on paper) and I don't go well together.

But - I thought I had toughen up a bit. Getting kids means you sort of have to. You sure don't want you kids to inherit these stupid fears - and you want them to think you're the coolest mom. So I've found myself saying things such as "oh, what a cute little spider, let's say hi" through clenched teeth.

Luckily we don't have a lot of spiders here - at least not in our garden or house. But occasionally the do pass by.

Last night one attacked me - ahum, I mean, "was quietly walking" (is a spider walking? crawling? moving?) towards me on the bathroom floor when I was... ahum.. sitting down.

Isn't it weird how these little (unharmful, they claim) insects makes grown-up people (usually female) really loose all logic and do silly things.

A few minutes later, The Husband, who though he had heard a weird noise from the bathroom, found me standing on top of the sink.

(no, no pictures of spiders will illustrate this post - I know I''m not alone in not liking spiders...)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Birthday celebration

We've spent the weekend celebrating the Husbands birthday. He is probably the only one in the whole world who can forget his birthday and be sincerely surprised when he is woken up with song, gifts and cake, according to the Swedish tradition. Oh, well.

And I realized that to my bilingual kids, the birthday song isn't automatically "Ja må han leva" (the Swedish birthday song) but could just as well and natural be "Happy birthday to you"...

A little birthday song clip from Seasme Street - a frequently watched TV show in his house....

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Pledge

Since we're both Swedish, we have to learn American traditions on the go and as we encounter them. The latest one is saying the Pledge of Allegiance (and spelling it!). Since we now have a Daughter in the American school system, she is learning to say the Pledge every day when she arrives to school, according to tradition. We realized that we should probably know it too (after all, parents are supposed to know more than they kids we think), so now I have printed it and am trying to memorizing the words. "I pledge allegiance to the flag...."

I like traditions, but it somehow makes me wonder if the core meaning of a tradition will become weaker when it's something you do every day? Just as the words "I love you" might lose it's meaning when it's said by routine and not by actually meaning every word every time you say it.

Oh, well, I've almost memorized it.

Here is a cute little clip from YouTube with kids saying the pledge.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


When the Husband and I went out for lunch today we saw a dark blue Volvo combi with booster seats facing backwards and the vanity plate "SWEDE E" on the parking lot when we came out from the restaurant.

The parking lot was empty - but I'm pretty sure that if we would linger we would have encounter some Swedes.

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I met Veronika (whom I met through this blog!) for a fika at Borders and we talked for hours as usual about the things Swedish aliens talk about. At some point we stated talking about engagement rings and the difference between Swedish traditions and American traditions. We got married in Sweden, just as Veronika and her husband, and Veronika asked we had gotten our rings.

And funny enough - here we're sitting, on the other side of the world, and we had our rings made at the same, tiny jeweler in downtown Stockholm, Guldsmeden i Konserthuset, right by Hötorget. A pretty cool coincidence!

The Husband designed a neclace that matched our wedding ring that this particular jewler made - it's beautiful and I wear it 24/7.

I tried to find a picture, but I only found this "street view" from, a Swedish "yellow pages" website who has something similar to Google's street view. You can't really see the little store, but it's there in the ground floor of the blue Konserthuset.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A beautiful song

A couple of months ago a friend of mine told me about a Scandinavian artist she had downloaded to her iPod with lots of traditional Swedish songs. The artist's name is Johanna Grüssner and her CD could be downloaded on iTunes. I didn't buy the CD, I prefer Amazon's MP website where I get the music in a format I can control (who knows for how long I'll use an iPod). But now she can be found there too and when I got 5 Pepsi point when eating lunch a Quiznos yesterday, I used them to reedem a song from Amazon, and choose "Så skimmrande var aldrig havet" with Johanna Grüssner (check out the other songs from the same CD here). I love this, very traditional Swedish song...

I tried to find a version on YouTube to share - didn't find one with Johanna
Grüssner, but found one with the Swedish singer Marie Fredriksson - one of my favorites (I've always prefered her as a solo artist to one of the duo Roxette that later made her world famous).

Beautiful. Just plain beautiful.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I want a king

After a restless night, resulting in back pain, I once again curse that day when we decided that a queen size bed would do just fine, since we couldn't find a bed frame for a king size bed. Who cares about a bed frame in the darkness at 3 am?? At that point, you only want a wide enough bed to fit everybody - especially yourself. But then, that was before knowing how much space a sleeping toddler use, should they decide that there are monsters in the closet.

American bed sizes comes with names, twin, full, queen and king. King being the largest (193*203 cm / 76*80 in). The difference between a queen and a king size bed is 41 cm (16 in). 41 cm is a loooot of space for a bed...

The interesting thing though, when I quickly browse through my favorite furniture places online (such as IKEA and Scandinavian Designs), there are still very, very few (good looking) bed frames for king size mattresses. Why is that... king size beds are so big bedframes would not even fit? King size bed people don't care about frames?

Well, maybe I'm going to join that last group and skip a bed frame, because even though I really do like our (birch, Scandinavian, calm) bedroom set, at 3 am I really coldn't care less...

(A very Scandinavian bedset from Scandinavian Designs)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Online shopping

I love online shopping! I don't know how well spread it is in Sweden, or how convenient it is - but here - I actually do almost all my shopping online. Oh, I don't mind spending a day at the mall, but for specific items - I do them online. The items arrive right at your door, with any of the major couriers (UPS, FedEx etc) or regular mail (in the extra large mailbox by the mail boxes down the street where all our mail arrives).

I subscribe to tons of e-mail newsletters from my favorite stores, keeping track of sales and specials. The sales here are great - you can get items for a fraction of the original price (and as I try to convince the Husband - you actually save money by finding things on sales! I don't know why he isn't convinced).

And you can find everything you need online. My favorite pair of capri jeans I've been wearing all summer are falling apart. I don't have the energy to go and try to find a replacement pair - not at the end of season when the stores are filling up with fall clothes (yes, there is an end of season here - despite the detail that it will be summer temperatures for a couple of more months). And they fit me great and I love them.

Hepp - I just googled "Levis 515 capri jeans" and found them online, in the right size and the right color. On sale - 50% off, free shipping. By the end of the week my old ones can go to pants heaven and I can hopefully use my new ones.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Writing dates

Ok, I been here several years, but I wonder if I'm ever ever going to get used to the backward way of writing dates... Here, instead of following international standards - and logic for that matter - they have their own way of writing dates.

So, today, 14th of August, 2008 is: 08/14/08. Not as in Europe: 08-08-14. Units in order - descending. Year - month - day. The largest first (year), and the smallest (day). Logical. Could be the other way around - smallest first, largest last: day - month - year - fine with me. It's the month- day- year that is confusing...

Not to mix things up, I try to write dates using letters ("August 14, 2008") instead of numbers (08/14/08) when ever I can when I have to do dates - not to confuse myself, and anyone who needs to interpret my dates.

But sometimes you get a form with "__ /__/ __ " with no hints... And that's when I start mixing things up... was it day first... or month... or year...

I wonder how long it will take until I get this right...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hot fall

It's not officially fall. That happens with Labor Day, Monday September 1. But since school has started for us, it sort of feels like fall. In terms of calender. Not in terms of temperature. We have a heat wave with temperatures around the 100F (+37C).

When I came out from the cool air conditioned store today, at 6 pm, it was still +37C. I wonder if I, a Swede used to seasons and high temperatures of +25C if lucky, will ever get used to that feeling of walking out into to a sauna, when you kind of "feel" the hot air surround you. Well, I always hated to be cold - and I'm sure ain't cold now.

The Daughter is complaining. "When is it ever going to be cold? I want to wear socks and jeans!". In a few months, honey, in a few months...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Escalator rules

When I was looking for potential bumper stickers yesterday I found this very Swedish warning sign (I'm not sure why you would want it on your car...). You can see this sign on almost any escalator (don't know the rule behind it - maybe it's mandatory for Swedish escalator to have these signs according to some escalator law).

And it made me think about what's NOT on the sign - strollers. In the US (or I should limit my comments to California, this is a huge country after all), you are never allowed to bring your stroller on an escalator. There are clear instructions and warning signs - "no strollers on escalators" (I'm too lazy to run out to get an example picture and couldn't find one online, but trust me, this is true).

For me, an obviously very irresponsible Swede, I think this is pretty inconvenient. This means I have to run around the mall or airport to find an elevator whenever I happen to have a stroller with me. When you transfer between terminals at O'Hare in Chicago, it takes probably 30 minutes more when you have a stroller and have to stand in line for the elevators than if you would be able to use the escalators.

I do see the point that you should be really careful - it IS tricky to navigate a stroller in an escalator.

Maybe Swedes have a special technique for escalator strolling, or maybe the strollers in Sweden, more resembling smaller cars (and they cost like one), are more safer than the more used umbrella stroller here. Or maybe, for once, Swedes are just a tad more irresponsible when it comes to kids and security (don't ever start a conversation with a Swedish parent about letting your children ride forward facing in a car before the age of 4). I don't know.

On the other hand - it is sort of social to stand in line waiting to get on a elevator with other parents with strollers... and yes of course, you always do some nice American small talking.

But I can admit it here... I have been breaking the rules... There have been occasions when I have used American escalators with my stroller (using my Swedish escalator technique)... being really nervous, thinking I would get caught by some huge, angry security guard. But - so far so good..

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bumper stickers

Every other minivan here has family bumper stickers, meaning cartoon figures of the members of their families - and their pets. And since we now own a minivan, maybe we should do bumper stickers too? If nothing else to distinguish the car among the many others in places where families (and minivans) gather.

There are tons of places where you can get these, and even custom made them to look "exactly" like your family. This is what we would look like as a cartoon family (I "made us" at, the geek, the bookworm, the pricess wannabee, and the train addict.

The Husband refuses these on our new minivan, thinking they look silly. I don't think they necessarily look silly, but since everyone seem to have them, it's kind of boring.

I was wondering if you could find Swedish bumper stickers here - after all, that is what makes us unique and different. Google, google - aha - on CaféPress I found 1600 different Swedish bumper stickers...

What about this... a sticker in Runskrift (saying "A Viking's Joy" they claim)? Or maybe this Casablanca inspired sticker... after all Ingrid Bergman was Swedish...? Or maybe we just stick to a little discrete Swedish flag...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Last weekend of the summer - first day of school

We've had a great weekend - the last one of the "summer" (we won't really see much change in weather here in a couple of months still) - and the last one before we entering into the world of school, lasting for the next 12-15 years...

Today is the start of Kindergarten, ours and the Daughter's first encounter with the American school system (well, part from preschool, but that is still voluntary). I still remember my first day of school clearly, but then I was 7,5 years old that August day, and not, like my Daughter, not yet 5.

In California you start school the year you turn 5 (unless you turn 5 after December 1, then you have to wait until the year after). When we moved here I thought this was early (even though they now start "school" in Sweden at age 6), but when I see the Daughter today, she is more than ready and she is going to have a great time in Kindergarten. Lot's of grown-up points having a Kindergartner in the family.

I have to remember to bring Kleenex to the drop off...

The Daughter's Californian Kindergarten.

My old "Lågstadieskola" in Sweden
(picture taken at the End of School -day last year).

Friday, August 08, 2008

A world wide web?

I was kind of curious of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing this morning (Pacific Time). Turns out NBC, the American channel who has the rights to the Games in the US, has postponed all the broadcasting 15 hours. Nothing can be seen live, but everything with 15 hour delay.

I quickly checked out the Swedish broadcasts, and their online live stream.

But no, they wouldn't let me watch since I was outside Sweden.

Oh, well. I guess I have to wait until tonight then. Or not. It wasn't that I was extremely curious, just thought it would be fun to watch when having my morning tea.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Paris Hilton or John McCain?

It's 3 months until the election of the new president in the US and the ads are starting to heat up. Each election here, for senators, or different proposition, is preceded by TV and radio ads on pros and cons. Political standpoints in 30 second soundbites.

Coming from a country where we up until a few years had no political ads (except the billboards and only a few weeks before the election) this was really interesting to encounter.

I've always been amazed of all this negative campaigning, wondering if these "the other guy is horrible, but I'm perfect"-ads really make a difference. But since they continue, they obviously do have some sort of effect.

Anyway, the last couple of days has been full of talks about the republican candidate McCains latest negative campaign, where he compares the democratic candidate Obama to a celebrity, with pictures of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

The founders of the humor website decided to make a "response" to this ad and called up Paris Hilton and made a "Paris Hilton for president" ad.

There is nothing like a little American president election with a little humor in it...

Here is McCain's ad....

And here is Paris Hilton's ad...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

More expensiv dollar

The last few weeks the dollar has become more expensive. From being at 5,85 to the Swedish krona in April, today it climbed over 6,11 to the Swedish krona. One Swedish bank thinks the dollar will be at 6,35 SEK within a year.

It's still pretty low historically compared. The Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter had a graph of the dollar exchange rate to the Swedish krona the past 5 years. And it's still a good time for friends and family in Europe to come visit! Come on over!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Car donating?

So, after getting our new car, we are getting ready to donate our old car. In California this is a way you can donate to charity and at the same time getting a tax reduction on your donation - sort of like a win-win situation (the charity uses your car or sells it and keeps the money – while the donator gets a standard tax reduction of the same amount for which the charity sells it for).

We decided to donate our car rather than selling it through Craig's list of CarMax or through a dealer.

We thought this would be an easy process, but it's turned out more complicated that we would have thought. First of all, we would like to donate to an organization that is real - and give their money to something worthy. We were not picky - could be for unprivileged families, after school programs or any other good cause. After reading numerous websites about car donations, most of the organizations we've found felt shady and had unclear goals or have bad reviews.

In the end we decided to choose the local chapter of Make-a-Wish foundation. They seemed serious and had good reviews in terms of car donations.

They still haven’t picked up the car however… Maybe we just have to give up this car donation and turn to Craig’s list instead…

Sunday, August 03, 2008

A very slow weekend

This post could have been about how what a nice time me and the Husband had this weekend on our own on the beach in Santa Cruz... or hanging out in Sausalito... or cruising in downtown San Francisco... or wine tasting in Napa Valley...

But no. Oh no.

I have spent the weekend in bed, nursing some sort of a flu (WHO gets the flu in the middle of summer, and WHY did I have to get it when I was getting a weekend with the Husband, the first since... 2003... !?!!). So instead of watching the Pacific Ocean or the San Francisco skyline, I've been alternating between watching the bedroom TV or my laptop computer (when I was awake).

I have now watched all the latest episodes of the Swedish TV-show Mia och Klara online and watched the most weird medical miracle on the Discovery Health Channel (too tired to even switch channels) and haven't left the house for a single minute.

Oh, well... what is a weekend alone with the Husband. Probably boring... uneventful... and totally wonderful*.

(*last sentence only makes sense to Swedish people who know their Cinderella episode from the Kalle Anka-show on Christmas Eve, 3 pm sharp...).

Friday, August 01, 2008

Dora the Explorer

Speaking about entertainment...

When my youngest was just a baby, I was amazed at all the Dora stuff in the stores here, thinking she looked kind of boring and couldn't really get what kids though was so facinating about this Dora girl. That was before the Daughter turned 4 and became a total Dora addict...

For those of you with no kids in the house, you probably have no idea about Dora. Dora is a little girl with a backpack, named Backpack (orginial) and a monkey friend called Boots and they solve problems together on the channel NickJr. Dora also speaks Spanish (she is Mexican) so she teaches the kids some Spanish while solving the problems.

The first time I happened to tune in to a Dora I got a headache. Dora's voice is high and pitchy and I though it was all so silly. But with a Dora-addict in the house, we have to learn to live with this cartoon girl.

Now you can also see Dora the Explorer n Sweden (Dora utforskaren). There she speaks Swedish and her second language is English. We have couple of Swedish Dora and the Daughter is just as happy to watch those (as long as it's Dora). I don't think she even notices that Dora switches between Swedish and English...

Here is the Dora theme song. Don't hit play unless you want to be stuck with "Ddddddd Dora, ddddddd Dora" all day...