Saturday, December 28, 2013

Swedish Billionaires

Following on from my recent post about Swedish equality comes an article in Slate, courtesy of Marcia, in the same vein.

It appears that, despite the successful push towards social equality, there are more Swedish billionaires per capita than in the US.

Here's the key quote: "... almost every place on Earth would like to be the kind of place where successful new firms are born and raised. The good news about Sweden is that it’s exactly that kind of place. High taxes go to finance cheap health care and education, an excellent system of public transportation, and relatively generous subsidies to low-income households that keep the poverty rate and inequality low."

I find it heartening to read about a system of government that does what the US aspires to, and does it better.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Kalle Anka önskar dig en God Jul

It's time for all good Swedes to sit down and enjoy the traditional Donald Duck cartoon in celebration of Christmas.

I've blogged about this phenomenon many times in the past. Slate magazine has a good article about Kalle Anka. Strangely enough, Sweden's official website makes no mention of the Disney tradition.

We're not in Sweden this Christmas, sadly, but we are there in spirit. I know Rutger and many millions of his countrymen are safely in front of the television, watching SVT at this moment.

God Jul till alla!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Hockey Night in Texas

We went to the hockey game last night and had a great time. I had seats down by the visitor's goal in the hopes of seeing Eddie play. He didn't start, but came in early in the 3rd period after the Canucks were down 4-1. He played well, making a few good saves. I took these two pictures from our seats.

Eddie is clearly becoming a big part of the team. This article from Vancouver sums him up pretty well.

We weren't able to meet up, but we did exchange texts and we'll try again when the Canucks return in March. Wille was watching on TV, and we were messaging each other furiously during the match. Hockey was my sport growing up in Minnesota. It was nice to be close to the ice again!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Hello to all the nice people from Cabin Porn

I had blogged back in August about a drool-worthy website of cabins around the world, I sent in a photo of our little stuga but didn't hear back.

I visited as usual today, and lo and behold, there it is! A lovely Christmas image of our house is now listed with all of the other beautiful cabins on the site. It looks like a number of people have made their way this blog from the Cabin Porn link.

For those interested in learning more, the introductory posts are a good summary of our project.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Happy Lucia!

I'm up to my sixth Lucia celebration on the blog. This year, it happens on a Friday, but I think the good vibes of a Lucia celebration will overwhelm any bad vibes of it being a Friday the 13th.

A listing of my previous posts on the subject is here, and the website has a great recap of the tradition and its celebrations in the country.

Although we haven't found any local Lucia celebrations, Sooz and I did find a band with the same name when we were in Austin earlier this year. We'll see them on their upcoming tour, too!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Sweden's Eden"

A colleague brought me a recent Wall Street Journal article about the tradition of Stockholmer's summer homes. It's a good summary, but doesn't hold a lot new for frequent readers here.

The article is focused on real estate values. It does a good job of highlighting the huge growth in Varmdö kommun. The key quote is that "buying a one-room apartment in Stockholm is incredibly expensive and the average price of a summer house is much less."

Olle and Janne both told me recently that Varmdö is the fastest- growing area of Stockholm, and I can believe it. The new mega-ICA is just one example of growth in the area; the full busses on the Stavsnäs route are another.

The bus journey between Gustavsberg and Slussen, even at rush hour, is not that bad by European standards. (Although the upcoming 7-year reconstruction at Slussen may well gum things up!) Despite all that, I can see how a home in Varmdö would be a good alternative for people working around the city center.

Friday, December 6, 2013

"Goalies are weird"

The Vancouver Canucks (of the NHL) have a number of videos on their YouTube channel. This one's entitled "Goalies Are Weird", about the backup goaltender Eddie Läck.

Around the 3:40 mark of the video, Eddie talks about his father back in Sweden. Sharp-eyed readers might recognize Eddie's dad as none other than our own Wille, who led the team who assembled our house.

As you can imagine, Wille is quite proud of his boy, who has gone on to become a professional goaltender in the USA. I have been following his progress over the years, and I'm a tiny bit proud myself!

The Canucks are coming into town in a few weeks, and I bought tickets down by the visitor's goal. I hope he gets to play that day; we'd love to see him in action! Wille is going to see if we could somehow meet Eddie before/after the game.

For those interested, Eddie's performances are on his NHL webpage.

UPDATE December 10: Eddie started and had his first shutout last night!

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory

I was sent a link a while ago from Dawn, one of my more avid readers. She found a webpage about the "Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory" and wondered if it was our little island.

It was a bit alarming to see the page linked to the "final repository for spent nuclear fuel at the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company’s (SKB) underground hard rock laboratory on the island of Äspö."

I am happy to report that no nuclear waste is being stored beneath our little stuga. Firstly, the spelling is different: Äspö vs Aspö. Secondly, the atomic island is down south near Oskarsham, and not up in the Stockholm archipelago.

The website is quite well-written and it tells the story of the company's work to test technologies to safely store spent nuclear fuel in the bedrock and clay nearly 500 meters beneath Äspö. They provide a brochure explaining all of their tests, and I found it fascinating.

Apparently tours of the facility can be arranged. I'll have to add a tour to my Swedish "to-do" list!