Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Saying goodbye

I said goodbye to people in Sweden last week. It wasn't as bad as previous times. When I was in South Africa and last year in Sweden I felt rather torn in the last week or two. It was hard to see people because I knew I was leaving. This time it was more that I'll be gone but I'll be back. I think it's also that I've become closer friends to people here and it doesn't feel like I'll have to start from scratch again. I also think I've started to become part of gänget - the gang.

When I left Santa Fe I got a dance circle. I've blogged about that before. In Cape Town Mark gave a small announcement that I was an honorary Capetonian and also got a dance circle. In Göteborg, although people knew I was leaving, it was a more personal thing.

The most touching came from Gudrun: "Golvet ska gråta / när Andrew är borta". "The floor will cry / when Andrew is away". It rhymes in Swedish. Thank you Gudrun.

Speed football

I turned on the television here in Oxford. They are showing the Patriots/Colts game. I was surprised to see a US football game in the UK, even if it is the championships. They are squeezing the game into something like an hour. It's strange watching the game whizz by. I'm used to seeing each play at least twice during a normal game, given the time needed to get things set up for the next play.

It isn't a highlight reel. They show most of the plays, just without the breaks. It goes from the end of one play direct into the snap of the next. A few times they'll do a replay, but not often enough, IMHO. They'll also skip several minutes at a time, like 10 minutes where there's a slow press up the field.

I did think it was too fast, although it was nice to not see so many ads. Looked like it was a great game for those watching.

Speed football

I turned on the television here in Oxford. They are showing the Patriots/Colts game. I was surprised to see a US football game in the UK, even if it is the championships. They are squeezing the game into something like an hour. It's strange watching the game whizz by. I'm used to seeing each play at least twice during a normal game, given the time needed to get things set up for the next play.

It isn't a highlight reel. They show most of the plays, just without the breaks. It goes from the end of one play direct into the snap of the next. A few times they'll do a replay, but not often enough, IMHO. They'll also skip several minutes at a time, like 10 minutes where there's a slow press up the field.

I did think it was too fast, although it was nice to not see so many ads. Looked like it was a great game for those watching.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Today is laundry day at Chez Andrew. Soon to be ex-Chez Andrew (f.d. hos Andrew) I leave for the UK on Sunday. After a week visiting B et. al. I'll go to Florida for a week, Santa Fe for a month, then the West Coast for a few weeks before going back to the UK. I'm not allowed to be back to Sweden for 90. Silly Schengen visa rules.

The laundry room is called a tvättstuga (tvätt = wash, stuga = cabin or cottage; in Sweden you take a sauna in a bastu, short for "badstuga" = bath cottage). As usual for Europe the washing machines take forever. I thought it was because they were gentler than US washing machines. Emily has an XP or Agile methodology essay on the wall at work using washing as a metaphor for software development. It says the wash takes 25 minutes. I pointed that out to her and she was surprised at how short that was. Wash here is usually an hour or more. Same in South Africa.

I think it was Laura who pointed out that washing machines here are only connected to the cold water tap. They have to heat the water too. That explains some of the increase in time. Is that the only reason?

The tvättstuga also has a torkskåp. That's a drying cabinet. The Swedish Wikipedia entry has a good picture. Open the cabinet doors and pull the rack out. Hang the clothes on the rack and close it back up. Press the temperature button (40C or 60C). Wait. Rather like a mechanical clothesline. I visited Rhoda many yearss ago. In winter she ran a line across her basement. It worked albeit slowly because of the moisture. I imagine that's the reason for developing the torkskåp.

Google reports several hits for "drying cabinet". The first page's hit were all from manufacturers and appliance sales places. Staber reports:

The Staber Drying Cabinet is a very unique product that will be a new concept to the U.S. This new high-end product would be an alternative to a conventional clothes dryer, and is simply a different way to dry laundry.

It operates like an accelerated clothesline, circulating air throughout the cabinet. You can put anything in it at the same time (winter boots and heavy jackets), and use it for delicate items or things you do not want to shrink. The drying cabinet uses a 1,500 W heating element, using just 2.8 kWh for a standard load. In comparison, traditional tumble dryers commonly use a 4,000 W heating element.

The life expectancy for the drying cabinet is around 15 years, and there is very little maintenance if it is ever required. Drying cabinets are a common way to dry laundry in Scandinavian countries, and they are used in addition to traditional tumble dryers.

Laura and Jacob's old place on Linnégatan had a torkrum (rum = "room" in English). Not a cabinet but a whole room, with air pipes above head level acting like the clothesline. Heated air was forced through the pipes, to dry the clothes.

My load should be done by now. Oh, and a neat thing is that since I dry at 40C which is about 100F I don't have to worry about keeping some of the laundry in too long. It doesn't get that hot tortured feel of leaving things in too long in the tumble dryer.

Friday, January 12, 2007

proper clothing

There's an expression I first heard as being Norwegian but I've also heard said as being from Iceland or Finland. "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes." It had to have come from some place without tornadoes, unless you count a storm cellar as clothing.

I took a long walk both yesterday and today. Yesterday I walked from here to Nya Varvet, mostly along the river's edge. It's a working river and I walked by or through a couple of ferry terminals, cargo yards, wharves and the fish market. The last used to be where The Fish Church is now but moved some time back. The fish harbor is good sized, with many companies located there, an auction house and (because this is Sweden and they believe in Education) a school for training in the fish industry. I hadn't walked that section before. Beyond was a part I had been before, going under Älvsborgs bridge, by Röda Sten and Nya Varvet. I stayed at NV about 2 years ago. It's a ways out of town, and some 10 minutes walk to the nearest tram stop.

I had thought to walk to Saltholmnen and take the tram back but I wandered a bit so walked to Kunsten and took the tram back. Today I took the tram to the Nya Varvet stop and continued walking. I enjoyed yeterday's walk. Today wasn't so good. It was raining the whole time. At the start that was fine. The gear I have is good enough for about an hour in that sort of weather. I wasn't wearing the right pants. After a while they got wet and as they are cotton you could easily see the pockets. My wallet got wet and I moved my cell phone to my back pocket.

That wasn't so bad. It's 40 something outside and like I said I could have continued. It's more that the neighborhood I walked through was pretty boring. All suburbs and not much interesting to see. I couldn't walk along the river because at Nya Varvet it's fenced off. The roads are all curved and I didn't know where I was going so I had to backtrack several times. The only cool part was walking through a dockyard with all the ships pulled up for overwintering. I was surprised that the gates were open and anyone could walk in. Again, this is Sweden.

Next to it was a more official area, with the Coast Guard and other services. The gates there closed and locked at 5:30 so I didn't go in. It was 5:25. That blocks off more of the river and walking around it meant more backtracking. Finally got back to the tramline. All that time and I only managed a few more stops down the tramline.

Oh well, perhaps tomorrow I'll finish the "walk" to Saltholmnen.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Andrew, Johan, Maria, Johan och Camilla på Trettondagsaftonbalan 2007
I fredags kväll gick vi till en Trettondagsaftonbal på GöteborgsOperan. Det började med en konsert som Maria (i mitt i bilden) och Johan (mellan tjejerna) lyssnade på. Andra killen heter också Johan. Han, jag och Camilla kom bara för att dansa. Första var en halvtimme weinervals. Jag kan inte dansa den så vi dansade tango istället. Efteråt kom ett storband. De spelade nästan 3 timmer, fast med ju flera pauser. Jag försökte att dansa foxtrot men det har varit så länge och jag kunde inte. Vi dansade en blandning av tango, swing ('jitterbug' kallades den i USA - den svenska jitterbuggen kallar vi 'lindy hop') och salsa.

Kl 24.00 serverades korv och öl medan dansen fortsättade. Kvällen slutaded kl 1 och den sista dansen var med Maria. Vi dansar så dramatiskt ihop. Johan (andra till vänster, efter jag) grattade oss eftersom vi ser ut jättefina.

De behövde "Klädsel Mörk kostym." Jag hade ingen kostym, bara arbets- och danskläder. Ingen för operan. Jag gick runt till flera secondhandaffärer och hittade en frack på Myrorna, visade i bilden. På annan butik hittade jag slipsen. Jag har en traditionel "wild west" väst från Western Warehouse i Santa Fe som passar bra med frackan och mina dansbyxor. Sara och jag säger "swing heil" byxor eftersom de kommer från en affär som säljer skjortar med text från swingdansare under och mot Nazitiden.

Allihop ser det ut fint. Vi tre tog en promenade till Operan och jag klädde mig i min svarta läderjacka. Jag gillade kläderna! Kanske skulle jag klä mig i högtidskläder mer ofta. Sverige är landet att göra det. De har många mer gånger att klä sig fin.

Translation follows:
Last Friday evening we went to a Three Kings Day Ball [Or Epiphany Ball - I think I use Three Kings Day because of growing up in Miami where the Catholics made a big deal about it] at Gothenburg's Opera House. It began with a concert which Maria (in the middle of the picture) and Johan (between the women) heard. The other guy is also named Johan. He, I and Camilla came only for the dance. First was 30 minutes of Viennese waltz. I can't dance it so we danced tango instead. Afterwards was a big band. They played for nearly 3 hours, although with a few breaks. I tried to dance foxtrot but it's been too long and I couldn't. We danced a mixture of tango, swing (jitterbug, although here "jitterbug" means lindy hop) and salsa.

At midnight they served hotdogs and beer and while the dance continued. The evening ended at 1 and Maria and I danced the last dance. We dance so dramatically together. Johan (second from the left, after me) congratulated us since it looked so good.

They required "Dark dress suit." I didn't have a suit, only work and dance clother. Nothing for the opera. I went around to several 2nd-hand stores and found a dress jacket at Myrorna, shown in the picture. At another shop I found the tie. Jag have a traditional "wild west" vest from Western Warehouse in Santa Fe which matches the coat and my dance pants. Sara and I say "swing heil" pants because they come from a company which sells shirts with text from swing dancers in and in opposition to the Nazi times.

All together they look good. We three took a walk to the opera house and I wore my dark leather jacket. I really liked the clothes! Perhaps I should wear formal clothers more often. Sweden is the country for that. They have many more times to dress up.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


"Stad" = "city", genitive "s", "bibliotek" = "library", "et" = definite form ==> "The City Library"

I went to the library last week looking for a place to work outside of the apartment. Usually it's not a problem but because dancing is on a light schedule I've not been going out in the evenings as much. Because I've been sick I've been watching too much TV. There's more American shows to watch here than when I was in Santa Fe!

While I was there I looked through the different floors, to see what was there. I looked through the science fiction section in the thoughts of rereading some of my favorites in Swedish. Because just about everyone reads English and the population is small there are relatively few books translated into Swedish. One that I do want to read is Heinlein's "Have Spacesuit Will Travel." That was my favorite book for a while growing up.

Today I went by the library again and tried working there. I went downstairs, where I hadn't looked before. I found the chess players. Somewhat surprising given that this is Sweden, they were all men. They again, they also looked non-Swedish. I don't get the impression that chess is a big thing in this culture.

I headed over to the newspaper section. They have an amazing number of Swedish newspapers. I didn't realize that Mölndal has its own paper. It even looks like Luleå (or was it Umeå?) has two small papers. The have an even more impressive of foreign newspapers. Most European countries, some in Arabic, some even using languages I didn't even recognize. The only US paper was the International Herald Tribune, which is a cross (literally) between the New York Times and ... no, I was about to spread a falsehood. The Washington Post sold its share 30 December 2002, says Wikipedia.

Another falsehood - the library also had, I think, Wall Street Journal's European edition. I didn't really count that though. In any case, the it didn't have any US newspapers like you would find on the rack in the US.

One thing I miss about the US is free public toilets. It costs 5:- (about 85 cents) to use their toilet.

Finally, finally, finally, after almost a month I feel good enough to go out dancing and enjoy myself. It was salsa night and I had a lot of fun.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Thats "Ny" = "new", "år" = "year", "s" = genitive/possive, "afton" = "afternoon" (here "eve"), "fest" = "party" ==> "New Year's Eve party". Agglutination - fun for the whole family!

I went to Camilla's for New Year's Eve. It was a knytkalas (potluck). I made chile con carne. There was a lot of food. Yum. Different foods than at a US party. More "pies". In this case a"paj" is something more like quiche. In South Africa a "pie" is a savory pastry.

Here's a picture with Camilla in the center.

I know Camilla from tango. She cleared out her bedroom and turned it into a dance floor. I was one of several tango dancers there. It wasn't all tango. We danced salsa for a while, as well as some swing and reggaton. Most weren't pair dancers and they like the reggaton the best. We talked too, and I got to be exciting again about having non-trivial conversations in Swedish. I could even add a few things to other conversations. W00t!

You can buy cool fireworks here and all evening people were setting off their own displays. Around midnight we each got a sparkler and champagne, with an impromtu countdown for midnight. Hugs and kisses for the new year and more talking, dancing, and eating. Mmm, chocolate.

I've been negligent about taking pictures. Even with digital cameras I'm not that much of a picture taker. Maybe if there was one in my phone, and it didn't cost 25 cents to move it some place real like my old Motorola in the US. I figure friends and family want to see what I look like these days with my new Swedish glasses and haircut, my South African dress shirt, and with Swedish people, so I took a few shots.

Here's me with two people. The woman is Maria. It's jättekul (very cool) to dance tango with her. The man is Johan. I've only danced with him a few times. :)

Hmm.. Both with my arms crossed. And yes, Johan is wearing a banana tie.

ladies of negotiable affection

That's Terry Prachett's term.

I went to visit friends in Germany for Christmas. I took the train there. Perhaps not the best of solutions but I figured it would give me time to read some and perhaps study Swedish. Didn't do the latter. On the way back I changed trains in Berlin. I've never been to Berlin so I gave myself a few hours to walk around and see a bit of the place.

The train station there is new, and quite impressive. A multilayered station and mall. But it isn't near anything. Walk outside and you see Federal Germany. There's a park there by the river. It was dark (after all, it is winter) and the day after Christmas so few were there. Strange city, empty, dark. I decided to not walk to the Brandenburg Gate and instead walked to some place closer and more populated. Ended up at Friedrich Straß. Went to an Irish Bar. Felt like talking in English and getting a burger. So-so burger. Killians beer.

Had some time remaining before the train so I walked down the street and was propositioned. My German is good enough to understand "Haben Sie sex mit mich?". Hope I spelled it right. Realized the first time I used Swedish "mig" instead of German "mich."

I got asked several times (5 or 6) while walking. Including once by a pair of women. They stepped in front of me so I stepped aside. They stepped in the same way. Repeat. As I was walking away one said something which included "Weihnachts". I'm guessing they were offering a Christmas special. I didn't even know enough German to say I wasn't interested, and didn't want to ask them to repeat in English.

The uniform seems to include a white bolero jacket and high boots. I think in Germany that prostitution is legal. Wikipedia knows everything.

This is the third time I've been propositioned. The first was in Glasgow when I was there for ISMB. While walking to a salsa club a woman asked "Service?". I responded "Sorry?" "Sex?" "No thanks." Searching now that's because of "Prostitution Tolerance Zones" introduced 28 October 2002.

The second was here in Göteborg. I was walking back from tango at Språkkaféet and passed two woman in a car near Feskekyrkan. They looked in their late 40s, early 50s and, well, not much to look at. The woman in shotgun asked me something I I didn't understand. I asked for clarifiation. (Rather, I probably said "Sorry? My Swedish isn't very good.".) She asked the driver to translate. "Do you want to have sex?" "No, I don't." Prostitution is not legal in Sweden. According to Johann, offering is legal but accepting is not.

I've also once been offered drugs. Coming out from tango dancing in Cape Town a guy, who I thought was a car guy, came up to me. Wanted to know if I wanted cocaine. After I said no, "weed?" I left, and was happy that the car guys started coming. "Car guy" is *not* in Wikipedia. It's the guy you pay a few rand to to watch your car.

So do I look more like a coke guy then a weed guy? Perhaps it would have been different had I still long hair. Or perhaps the profit margin is higher in coke. That's Emily's thought when I recounted these stories last week.