Saturday, December 31, 2005

December 31st, 2005:
Buying beer in Sweden

What I think:

At your corner shop or supermarket, you can only buy beer with an alcohol content of up to 3.5%. If you want normal beer (i.e. with a content of 5%+, you have to go to a state-run shop called
Systembolaget ("the system company"). In Helsingborg, there are only a few of these, and their opening hours are quite restricted.

Most Swedes don't seem to mind this arrangement. Many say that "Systemet" has a good selection of beers, and is very selective with the quality of the wines they buy. But that doesn't help those of us who fancy the occasional normal-strength can of lager at 8pm on a weeknight, or on a Sunday afternoon in the summer. The beer's quite pricey, as well - at the time of writing, the average price for a decent tin is at least 12 kr (about $1.50 US/ 88p UK / €1.28). And as for the quality of the wine, I'd prefer to have the choice to buy a cheap bottle of plonk to stick in my bolognaise sauce if I want to.

It's time that
the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.

The news today (oh, boy)
From the world outside:

A Night Of Celebrations: Security is tight in many of the world's cities as they prepare to say goodbye to a year scarred by violence and natural disasters. Sydney was one of the first to ring in the new year, kicking off a night of celebrations from Asia to the Americas. More than a million revellers crammed along the harbour-front area, near the world renowned Opera House, to witness a spectacular fireworks display at midnight (1pm GMT). From Sky News

Image: Systembolaget

A view of a "Systembolaget" shop: December 31st, 2005.
(Södergatan, Helsingborg - click here for store information).
Systembolaget is Sweden's state-run alcohol store.
(Note: Swedes even ride bikes in the snow!)

December 30th, 2005:
Recycling in Sweden

What I think:

I have a love/hate relationship with the extent to which recycling is so big in Sweden. Nearly all of your rubbish must be sorted: paper, cardboard packaging, hard plastic, soft plastic, metal, clear glass, coloured glass - even the scraps of your food waste have to be put into special biodegradable bags and placed in a separate bin (this waste is used to produce "bio-gas", which Helsingborg buses now run on).

Obviously, all of this recycling is fantastic, and of the utmost importance for the environment, but finding space for all of these separate bags and/or bins in my kitchen is a real pain in the butt. And those empty cat food tins and milk containers start to smell after a couple of days. You feel obliged to wash all of your rubbish - which you're supposed to do anyway. I never thought I'd see the day that I'd have to wash my rubbish.

It's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.

The news today (oh, boy)
Polls from the world outside:

UK - Poll Backs Total Ban: A new opinion poll indicates a majority of Britons wants smoking banned in all workplaces in Britain. A survey by anti-smoking groups indicated 72% of those asked agreed that workplaces, including pubs and bars, should be smoke-free.
From Sky News

US - Poll: First lady embraced, president not: Nearly three-quarters have a favorable opinion of Laura Bush... Far more Americans think highly of first lady Laura Bush than they think of her husband, a poll released Thursday said. Fewer than half of Americans say they have a favorable opinion of President Bush and his top aides, about the same number who said that last summer, the poll found. But nearly three out of four (73 percent) said they have a favorable opinion of Laura Bush, the CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll said. Thirteen percent described their opinion of her as unfavorable.
From CNN
The weather in Helsingborg on December 30th, 2005,
as seen from my balcony and workplace.
Yep, it's winter, alright.

Friday, December 30, 2005

December 29th, 2005:
Socialising in Helsingborg

What I think:
It's a shame that most people here in Helsingborg don't go out to socialise on weeknights, but get totally pissed on Friday nights. They fight, puke and/or have nasty, heart-breaking one-night stands.

It's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.

The news today (oh, boy)
From the world outside:

Big Freeze Grips Britain: Britain is preparing for even chillier conditions, with temperatures dropping as low as -7C. The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for Eastern England and Scotland. Temperatures plunged as low as -11C on Wednesday night, making December the coldest since 1996. From Sky News

US judge orders Nazi death camp guard to be deported to native Ukraine: Three decades of attempts to deliver justice to a man accused of being a guard in Nazi concentration camps took a new twist yesterday when a US judge ordered the deportation of John Demjanjuk, an 85-year-old retired car factory worker. From The Guardian

Russian church cuts ties with Sweden over gay unions: The Russian Orthodox Church has frozen relations with the Swedish Lutheran Church over its decision to bless gay unions. It says homosexuality is a "sin and a vileness" and the Swedish initiative "undermines the foundations of European civilisation". From The Local - Sweden's news in English

The view from my balcony in Helsingborg, Sweden
December 29th, 2005.
13:45 CET