Monday, March 31, 2008
But so far you have been able to hit the bars*, knowing you most certainly would find a bottle of Absolut Vodka and be able to show off this very Swedish product to your American friends.
It's turning French.
(* That is b.k. These days you're happy if you can get anything stronger than 1% milk.)
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Anyway - she lives in New York now and I've written about this phenomena before,- here is a long feature article about her life in Brooklyn and - not a single line on what kind of visa she is on or how she is able to stay past her 90 day visa waiver...
Well, I'm happy for her what ever visa she is on - she seems to enjoy it a lot.
But I'm sure curious...
(At elle.se you can see pictures of the photo session with Marit Bergman in New York).
Saturday, March 29, 2008
I was surprised to run into a crowd of shoppers. IKEA on a Saturday night in California is obviously not quiet and lonely, but a busy place, filled with young people filling up the shopping carts. So maybe I'm not getting old at all - only more cool?
When standing in the long line at the check-outs(getting flashbacks from IKEA in Kungens Kurva outside Stockholm...) my mom said "well, wasn't it pay day this last week?". This is a comment that can only be made by a Swede, used to everyone getting their salaries on the 25th of each month, thus the weekend after the 25th is not a good weekend to hit the stores with everyone else with thick wallets (or these days loaded credit cards).
Here you are usually paid biweekly and it could be either week and day of the week. So the shopping crowd at IKEA on a Saturday night could not be explained by unusual thick wallets. Seems it just a cool place to go on a weekend night. And we were there!
Friday, March 28, 2008
"TSA has reviewed the circumstances related to the screening of a passenger with body piercings that occurred recently in Lubbock, Texas. It appears that the Transportation Security Officers involved properly followed procedures in that incident. They rightly insisted that the alarm that was raised be resolved. TSA supports the thoroughness of the Officers involved as they were acting to protect the passengers and crews of the flights departing Lubbock that day.
TSA has reviewed the procedures themselves and agrees that they need to be changed. In the future TSA will inform passengers that they have the option to resolve the alarm through a visual inspection of the article in lieu of removing the item in question. TSA acknowledges that our procedures caused difficulty for the passenger involved and regrets the situation in which she found herself. We appreciate her raising awareness on this issue and we are changing the procedures to ensure that this does not happen again."
I sure wonder how long they've been working on this release, published on their website. They must have worked hard to omit the word "apology" sticking to the importance of "procedures".
The closest they get is "regrets the situation in which she found herself".
Yesterday the news about a woman having to remove her nipple piercings to be able to pass through security broke. And even though nipple piercings is not my kind of game, the story really, really upsets me.
Male TSA* personnel, refusing to inspect the small piercings after a hand held metal detector beeped, even as the woman offered, but instead giving the woman pliers to take them off. The woman is asking for an apology and I, for once, almost wish she would do like so many Americans do - sue!
Since when can nipple piercings be considered a threat?
And how come you can go through security with hardwire in your bras - but not with nipple piercings? After all, the hardwire is long, sharp and could probably do some harm if you really wanted to. Or how can men have belts with large, metallic buckles. After all, a belt could probably be used to strangling someone.
This is a low point for TSA.
Here is a video about the incident.
*TSA = Transport Security Administration is the authority responsible for all airport security in the US.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
This issue of Sköna Hem had a feature article about a "funkis"* appartment in downtown Stockholm, and boy, how hard it is to live in a "garage with house on top" when you see the pictures...
Check out the pictures from this place here! Look at the view... isn't it to die for... ?
Maybe I have to take a trip to the new Scandinavian Designs store this weekend to ease my mind. I wonder if you can ship a "funkis" building from Stockholm...?
(* "Funkis" as in "funktionalism" - in English architectural "functionalism")
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
In the end we didn't too bad for being Northern California. Withing walking distance we have for example ColdStone Creamery (the best icecream), Starbucks (no need to specifiy...), Borders (bookstore with café) and WorldMarket (store filled with stuff from all over the world... like Swedish Fish and Droste chocolate).
Since my mom managed to catch some sort of "jet-lag-flu" and have been in bed for almost a week (out of the three they are staying), this has been great for her poor husband who has been taking daily walks around the neighborhood. He has never done so much shopping in years... he even bought shoes - voluntarily and alone!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
We weren't really watching, just had the TV turned on. It wasn't really until the last performer came on that I kind of focused on the screen and listened. Contestant David Cook was performing and he was doing Michael Jackson's Billie Jean, in a version created by Chris Cornell, and I really, really liked it.
I went online and checked out David Cook's earlier performances in American Idol - and I really liked them too. Maybe I have to tune in next week (or just go on YouTube a couple of minutes after the show has broadcasted on the EastCoast, three hours earlier than here in California) to check out his performance. That is if he is still on the show next week...
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
For other friends and family that might consider coming to see us (+27C on the patio today!) and like to shop, DN did a little price comparison, to help convince you, now is the time:
Ipod touch (32 gb)
In the US: 2973 SEK ($491)
In Sweden: 4495 SEK ($742)
In the US: 235 SEK ($39)
In Sweden: 900 SEK ($148)
Xbox 360 Premium (20 gb)
In the US: 1800 SEK ($298)
In Sweden: 3200 SEK ($528)
Canon EOS 400 D
In the US: 3250 SEK ($537 )
In Sweden: 6000 SEK ($991 )
(Not only is the dollar currently weak, but somethings are really ridiculously expensive in Sweden... )
So if you were thinking of buying an iPod, a pair of Levis jeans, and a new SLR camera - the total price difference is almost the plane ticket...
About half the stores are closed today, which is really unusual here. It only happens a few times a year.
We thought we were going to do a more "American" Easter this year - include a visit to the Easter Bunny, and doing a little egg hunt.
But we were too busy and ended up with Swedish Easter witches, European paper eggs filled with candy and "Easter twigs" (påskris). Again. Next year...
Friday, March 21, 2008
Today I played a guide and took my parents to Old Sacramento, the California Railroad museum, and the State Capitol and the Capitol mall, a very nice park behind the Capitol.
I took a bunch of pictures - if you're curious - check out the slide show below!
Thursday, March 20, 2008
We let the Swedish kids around here dress up as Easter witches, but we spared our American neighbors the shock of getting totally unexpected visits from scary witches wanting candy... they got to "fly" around our back yard instead and taking a break eating semlor.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
The pasta was ok - especially the Daughter liked eating small rabbits. Hm.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
So tomorrow the house will be filled with three very jetlagged grown-ups, one very tired grown-up who has been driving around Northern California alone with two kids in the backseat to pick up jetlagged people - and two very happy kids that want to play intensely with dad and grandparents.
Now that will be a very interesting equation..
Monday, March 17, 2008
Being married with a geek, I have a system making it possible to create a unique e-mail addresses for every place where I leave my email, like firstname.lastname@example.org if I would sign on up or order something from GAP (but still getting the e-mail in my regular inbox). This way I can track spam and just delete the specific e-mail address and thus avoid spams from at least one source. That's how I know for example that someone hacked Borders e-mail server - because I started getting spams on the unique e-mail address I had only used on their website... So you can't even be sure big retailers are protecting your e-mail.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Right now, the dollar exchange rate to the Swedish krona is almost touching 6 SEK.
I've said it before now really is the time to come visit... at least if you have Swedish kronor in your wallet.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Since I was a kid, I've been watching the "Melodifestivalen" and the Eurovision Song Contest, giving the competing songs votes, commenting on performances, mostly thinking the wrong song won.
That is, until I moved here. The first few years I lived here, you could only listen to these programs online on Swedish radio. And you sort of have to see it too... even though it should be about the music and the songs rather than the artists, you need to see the performances. It's like listening to the Oscars on the radio...
Yesterday I watched Melodifestivalen online. Since it was in the middle of the day, I hooked up my laptop to my iPod amplifier in the kitchen while having lunch, letting the kids dance and eat waffles. We had a blast. Even though it feels weird to watch it with sunshine.
The important question afterward is always - did the right song win (the tabloids will use a lot of space trying to answer this question the next couple of days)? Well, I didn't really have a favorite, but the song that won probably will have a decent chance in Belgrad, where the Eurovision Song Contest will be held this year.
Here is this year's winner - Charlotte Perelli with Hero;
*A definition of schlager according to Wikipedia: Typical schlager tracks are either sweet, highly sentimental ballads with a simple, catchy melody or light pop tunes. Its lyrics typically center on love and relationships, and feelings.
** I admit... I have a "schlager-playlist" in my iPod...
Friday, March 14, 2008
When I came downstairs to the office after everyone shorter than 110 cm is asleep to finish up some work (yeah, great Friday evening...) I see on my news section on my iGoogle that a possible tornado has hit downtown Atlanta tonight.
So I want to check the news. I usually watch news online these days, but tonight I decided to actually turn on one of the five TVs we have in the house. There are several news channels in this country, CNN, CNN HeadlineNews, ABC News, MSNBC, Fox News, CBS News, and other specialized news channels. So there is not lack of possibilities to watch the news whenever you want to.
But with +100 other channels in our channel lineup it's almost impossible to find them... Because they are not sorted by name, but by channel number and a short abbreviation for the channel. Gaah. Fox News is 360 FNC.
CNN is 202CNN.
So I'm watching CNN right now. Easiest to find. One day I'm going to make a list of all the NewsChannels so I can browse them when something happenes.
Now I'm going to hope that the damages are not too bad in Atlanta...
(The picture is a screen picture of CNN's Live on CNN - a way to watch their news live from their website. Easier to go to www.cnn.com than to find all the remote controls needed to turn on a TV in this high tech house).
Thursday, March 13, 2008
The story is a sad but not unfamiliar one. A person with power forgets how to behave and think he is beyond being found out or just looses his head.
But the worst part of the story, and one thing that I dislike so much about American politics, independent of the story being a positive or a negative one, is that the spouse is always exposed next to the person being scrutinized or presented. Usually these spoused are women (with Mr Clinton being the current major exception) - and in reality whom you are married to is as much part of your electable self as the actually policies you want to be elected for. I think this is the Swedish person in me - because in Swedish politics you hardly have any knowledge about the persons our elected politicians are - and I'm happy without that knowledge. After all it's not the spouse who is in office. I hope my job applications isn't affected by my Husband looks, personality, career or opinions...
In this case, Eliot Spitzer's wife, Silda, was standing next to him during the press conferences when he resigned and even though he didn't admit to have visited prostitutes, it sure was on the table. She - who just has learned that his husband not only has cheated, but done it visiting prostitutes - has to stand there next to him and look... what? Sorry? Devastated? Supporting? Why on earth does she has to stand up there next to him? Because he will look better as a family husband, or because she will look better as a supporting wife? Unless she is a very good actor, you could see the distress and stress. I sure hope it was her own decision and she was not "expected" too...
I just think Mr Spitzer could have met the press on his own without any kind of support next to him.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Trying to grasp the insurance system in the US is kind of tricky. It differs a lot from Sweden. With the help of "Insurance for dummies" (not kidding) we've sort of grasped the the different types. Since we're both self employed and don't have a big company as employer we have to do most of this ourselves.
The insurance agent I met with today was the total stereotype of an insurance agent. Middle aged, boring but nice man with bad handwriting. I signed a bunch of papers, had to look up my social security number (WHY can't I memorize that number, embarrassing!) , had no idea what my weight was in pounds (or in kilos for that matter), wrote checks with weird sums (the ever present checks...).
Now I have to wait for a nurse to come to the house and hook me up and check my health and I'm all done. Book can go back into the bookshelf and collect dust until next time.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Since I am a grass widow this week I had company at my (home) office today. This is what we accomplished:
Monday, March 10, 2008
I fond a green t-shirt only after 30 seconds and happily went to the check outs. And managed to cause complete confusion since I was paying with cash. Real money. Green bucks. The poor store clerk couldn't open the cashier's box to get my change back and after several attempts the managed had to be called.
Plastic is the way to go.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
I might be totally wrong, but I can't remember it being that hard to find blank notebooks in Sweden. But maybe my memory is wrong. Maybe the whole world prefers preprinted ruling. Neat notes. "Ordning och reda, pengar på Fredag, var sak på sin plats" as Alfie Atkins dad says.*
The picture is of a Swedish "kollegieblock" (wire notebook) with Marimekko artwork. Ruled. But with a cover like that, I might even consider writing ruled notes.
(*Only makes sense if you've read the children's book "Vad sa pappa Åberg?" ("What did Mr Atkins say?") 152 times).
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Today I realized that my early morning phone meetings I planned for next week would have to be cancel, since I'm by myself with two (loud but cute) kids (who compete to answer and talk on the phone - not caring who is on the other line, PG&G, grandmom or life insurance seller (I really don't need to be listed on the "Do Not Call"- list anymore, I can just let the kids screen the calls for me).
I usually have phone meetings at 7 am in the morning, ie 4 pm in Sweden (since I work from home here in California but for a Swedish company (sort of)), which works great (schhh, my colleagues doesn't have to know I'm sometimes still in my pajamas and having a really bad hair day), as long as someone else keeps the kids away from the phone.
But (sorry for the long introduction to my main point of this post) - I just realized I'm saved by daylight savings! Because since the US changes to daylight savings ridiculously early from now on (three weeks before Europe), 4 pm in Sweden next week is - tada - 8 am in California. And at 8 am, our Nanny has arrived and I can talk undisturbed about SharePointServices, sale cases and step four in our work processes.
So this year I'm not going to complain about this stupid daylight savings thing.
But come back next year and you will hear me rant.
Anyway, I have to go now. I have 78 clocks in the house to change. We really need to cut back on clocks in this house....
Friday, March 07, 2008
Because I have a little secret.
I'm totally hooked on hoodies...
I don't know where this obsession came from or really when it started. But if I walk into a store I will spot a hoodie first and check it out. I have way, way too many hoodies in my closet (and hardly dare show the Husband if I add one to the collection).
I wouldn't wear them to work or parties, but to almost any other occasion. Totally weird. I don't even ever put the hood up!
I need to detox on hoodies.
(Picture of hoodie from DKNY)
Thursday, March 06, 2008
I came back with the Swedish TV series Labyrint and the Husband and I have now started watching it. It's a total of 9 hours to watch and we're about one third through. It's really interesting to watch Swedish TV series here - it's an abrupt change from the "fast" to the "slow". Not necessarily saying that either one is better. It's just... different.
It seems it got mixed reviews in Sweden, but as always, we're happy to hear Swedish and see all pictures from Stockholm. And it's growing on us... we've started to like it. We'll see how long it will take us to finish it. 9 hours...
You can see a trailer here.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Oh, this is going to be a very, very interesting couple of weeks (months??).
The simple solution would seem that they team up and run together... maybe tossing on who gets to be the President and who gets to be the Vice President?
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Four states are voting today, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont. Interestingly enough, the weather forecast is always important on election days here. If it's bad weather - less people vote. Good weather - alas, more people vote. Today is a really bad voting day in Ohio with snow storm warnings and freezing rain - but clear weather is expected is the state with most delegates; Texas.
Monday, March 03, 2008
Anyway, the other day I started looking for an old WetWetWet song that I remember made me happy - and - thanks to YouTube (how great isn't life when you can find things you are looking for instantly!) - I found it. Angel Eyes! I remember I thought the singer was so cute...
And, since this song is now 21 years old (yikes! HOW can that be possible??) I was a bit curious what happened to the band (and to the singer...). Found out his name is Marti Pellow and like way too many in the showbiz business he went down into drug addiction... But the band reunited and actually released a new CD late last fall and and a new single just a few weeks ago. WetWetWet is actually from Scotland and they stated playing together in 1982...
Since Amazon.com recently signed up with several big record companies, the Amazon.com/mp3 website now is a more substantial competitor to iTunes. The Amazon.com/mp3 songs are DRM free meaning I can use them as I please, not how Apple and the record companies have decided.
And the other day PayPal launched a great plug-in you can use in your browser. Now you can use your PayPal even if the shopping site does not offer PayPal as a payment option (like Amazon), and you can generate a multi-use credit card number connected to your PayPal to be use on the same shopping site over and over again. Great when you're buying for small amounts, such as mp3-songs for $0.89 - you don't have to fill up your credit card bill with those small transactions.
So I set up a PayPal plug-in multi-use credit card with my Amazon.com 1-click feature (are you with me?). Alas - I can buy songs off Amazon.com with one click (no entering payment information over and over again) using my PayPal account.
Then I downloaded the Amazon Mp3 Downloader, which downloads the music to my hard drive - and copy them over to my iTunes automatically.
The difference from iTunes? I actually own the songs now and can use them (privately of course) how I like. I don't mind iTunes or Apple, just they way the assume I'm a share filing pirate who can't follow the law.
The best of three worlds - Amazon, PayPal and iTunes!
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Here is another fun test about the US. How well do you score?!
Saturday, March 01, 2008
Thank you P and O for a great early afternoon!It was so much fun seeing you! We hope you enjoyed the rest of the day in San Francisco and found the Painted Ladies and drove down Lombard Street!
So. What's up with the American mens' love for wearing baseball cap at all sorts of occasions. And I'm not talking about those thin haired/bald guys that actually need them for protection - those are excused.
If it's day time.
And it's sunny.
Sometimes you can see how "naked" some men feel after they've taken off this ever present accessory, and relax first once it's back on. Do these American men consider themselves having "bad hair days"? Or is it just one of those things that sort of becomes a tradition? A true American fashion statement?
If jeans with tapered legs is one way to spot an American (guy) outside the US, so is the baseball cap. They usually come in pair.
I don't mind caps at all (not in the way I do mind jeans with tapered legs...), I think it's kind of nice looking - for outdoor activities. But I'm really curious about this almost compulsory cap using behavior it's easy to sense here...
I found this website that went through all kinds of different aspects of a cap. I thought a baseball cap was just a... baseball cap. But oh no - it's way more complicated than that... There are several types of caps; fitted, adjustable, unstructured, visors, bucket. And there are a bunch of special terms to be used when talking about your type of hat; brim/bill, buckram, closure systems, embroidery, eyelets and panels.
Almost a science of its own.
The picture is from JCPenny's new"American Living" site which I wrote about the other day... it's supposed to be "American fashion" and sure enough - there it is - the happy dad in the happy American family is wearing - tada - a baseball cap!