Monday, November 28, 2011


I received a familiar dark-blue envelope in my Texas mailbox the other day. The nice people at the Swedish tax authorities, Skatteverket, have tracked me down.

Actually, I was at least partially pleased to see the forms, as it proved at least that I correctly sent in my new address. And, reading the documents inside, I was not that upset to see what Sketteverket sent me.

I've posted previously about being a bit uneasy that my tax bill has been zero. Not that I mind, of course, but, knowing the tax regime in Sweden, I know that 'zero' is not a number they use very often. I had a nagging feeling that one day, some unknown bill would come due.

My dark blue envelope contained a förslag småhusenhet fastighetstaxering which is essentially a property tax proposal. It asked me to review their data about our little house and to update it if needed, as changes to the size or fittings of a summer house change its tax value. The homeowner fills out a survey about many elements of the property, and the answers are used to determine the tax base. The form's instructions are available in English on Skatteverket's website for those interested.

The good news for me is that our property and our little house was accurately recorded in Skatteverket's questionnaire. So my concerns about not being on the tax rolls are abated; I obviously did it right the first time. Secondly, since there haven't been any substantive changes to the house, there's no need for me to send anything in. Our new home value will be sent to us in July 2012.

It appears that new home construction has a 5-year tax holiday, so I have a couple more years before I start supporting the social state.

Friday, November 25, 2011


It's time for my now-traditional Thanksgiving post. And just as the previous Thanksgivings were very different from each other, so is this one.

For the first time in at least a dozen years, we're enjoying the holiday with our family in the good old USA. In fact, we're in our mother's house in Minnesota. Here's a photo of the whole clan. It really is great to be together.

The only one missing here is Ollie, which is a bit ironic, because for him, Thanksgiving has a special meaning. It's three years since his back was repaired. I am happy to report that he's still doing well, happy and healthy, and very well-loved in his new Texas home. Something to be thankful for, indeed.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Iceman Ötzi

No, not DJ Ötzi, a very cool guy in his own right, but instead a very-well preserved body of a man who lived in the Tyrolean Alps 5300 years ago, and was uncovered in melting ice in 1991.

I watched a National Geographic special about a project to learn from Ötzi's corpse. It's amazing to see how much information can be gleaned from careful study: where he was from and where he lived, what he ate, his health and even his social status. Today, he has his own museum.

However, the most interesting tidbit of news to me was that DNA tests showed that our prehistoric traveler to have also been infected with Lyme disease. Just goes to show that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Swedish Design slideshow

Yet another slideshow from Dwell. I love the 'Boop' armchair (slide number 5).

The website of the Note Design Studio is fun to look at. I also love their 'Monacle' door with the teeny window above the lock.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Visit!!

During my long 'away period' between this September and next May, I had hoped I could piggyback a visit to Aspö onto one of my business trips into Europe.

I am happy to report that I've had success in that plan, and I will be making a very brief stop into Stockholm, five weeks from today, just before Christmas. I will fly into London on December 15th for an all day meeting, and then onto Stockholm that evening. Early on Friday, the 16th, I'll head out to Aspö for a day trip, then back to Marcia & Rutger's for the night. And it's out early again on Saturday for the long trip back to Texas, hopefully home in time for dinner.

I'll probably be jetlagged out of my gourd, but I will be able to see our house for a day, and my good friends for a night, all for the cost of a £130 round trip on SAS. I think that's well worth it.

UPDATE: The Waxholms winter boat schedules are out (departing, returning) and I can get to Aspö just fine in the morning, but there's no afternoon boat back on Fridays. I could take the scheduled taxi boat at 5:30, but that's going to be a long day out there, especially since the sun will rise at 8:40 and set at 2:47. I might get my own taxi boat in mid-afternoon.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Photos from Annika

I wrote Annika and Olle the other day, as usual asking for a favour. I was worried that my bathroom radiator was working properly (not too hot, or worse, not hot enough).

Not only did they go over and confirm a nice 8.8° degrees, she sent along a few beautiful photos of a sunny Autumn day. I made a webgallery of her photos. I hope she and Olle will keep sending them through the next few months!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I had planned to write about the Beach Boys' lost album, SMiLE, released today after nearly 45 years. In fact, I had written a thousand words on the subject.

However, this review from Pitchfork said it all far better than I could have done. If you're curious about the "greatest album never made," it's worth a read.

And I highly recommend the CD itself. It is glorious.