Monday, June 26, 2006

Monday, June 26th, 2006:
Helsingborg to Lithuania - What have I done?

Quick post:

I'm being sent to Lithuania for work. I'm still trying to work out what I've done to deserve this. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Swedish government may have something to do with this.

The point here is that I doubt that I will be able blog from where I'll be.

You'll hear from me again when I'm back; by the weekend.

This would be a great opportunity for you to relive the magic of some previous posts. Or not.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006:
2996 September 11th bloggers

Just a quick note:

On September 11th of this year, 2996 bloggers will write about the victims of the attacks in 2001. Each blogger will be assigned a victim to write about. It's about celebrating the lives of those who lost their lives on that day.

The idea was by D.Challener Roe, who is coordinating the event. If you're a blogger, and would like to be involved, visit the 2996 blog > and leave a comment to sign up.

Bear in mind that this is intended to get to know the victims, and celebrate their lives, and not to use as a platform for propagating your views on US foreign policies.

Respect it for what it is.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006:
Weird art in Helsingborg -
Mystery solved (sort of)

What I think:

You may remember my post at the beginning of May about some weird glass and metal structure that graces the courtyard outside of the office building where I work. This one:
In my post, I wondered what the hell it is, and what possible use it could have.

I've now been informed by a colleague in my building that this work of "art" is meant to represent a golfball and a golf bag. She had apparently asked her boyfriend about it, who answered in a kind of "Duh, isn't it obvious?" kind of way.

I'm told that it was commissioned by the University that we share the courtyard with, and was created by some local artist or something.

But now I'm wondering why. Why a golf theme here? The buildings surrounding the courtyard consist of a University campus and some IT offices. Apparently, this site used to be a rubber factory; I think they mainly made boots. Maybe they had something to do with making golfballs as well. I don't know.

At least we know what it's supposed to be, now if we could just find out why it's there. Frankly, I'm beyond caring whether the Swedish government can provide any answers.

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006:
Helsingborg's Speaker's Corner silenced?

Oh dear.

It appears that the newly-installed Speaker's Corner will not be a mainstay in southern Helsingborg. It's been pushed to the side, and the little "Speaker's Corner" sign has been unceremoniously ripped from its post. Sad.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thursday, June 15th, 2006:
Speaker's Corner in Helsingborg

What I think:

From juvenile to absurd; how's that for a near-seamless sequence, eh? Here we go.

Most people have heard of Speaker's Corner in London. For those who haven't, it's located in the northeast corner of Hyde Park in central London, not far from Marble Arch tube station. Many influential and famous people have spoken there, including Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin (of Russia's politcal past), the Suffragettes (of David Bowie's song, "Suffragette City"), and George Orwell (who wrote 1984, which was inspired by
the song by David Bowie, off his great "Diamond Dogs" album).

So you get the idea; this is a famous place. And I like early-Bowie stuff.

But I digress.

Over the past few days, I've been passing a spot in the south of Helsingborg near where I live, and I noticed that we too now have our very own Speaker's Corner. Wow.

It's a pretty awesome sight to see. It's located on a busy square, where you can find a few good vegetable stalls, and a fish van that's there on weekdays (but don't try to buy anything after 5:00 p.m. when they're closing; they can get quite rude). It's just across the square - on the other side of the church - from where the now-famous A-Team hang out.

Best of all, it's right in front of AGs, which is definitely one one the finest purveyors of basic foodstuffs for metres around.

Without further ado, here is an image of this
inspirational masterpiece of public speaking podium craftsmanship:

What is this doing there? I think that a representative from the Swedish government should come down here and stand on this monstrous thing to do some explaining. That's what I think.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Monday, June 12th, 2006:
More juvenile ramblings about Swedish: Farts

What I think:

I know that I lowered the tone with the last post, and I felt it appropriate to keep it a bit low on this occasion as well. I don't want to shock you all by suddenly writing an intellectually highbrow post after the last one. I think I should do things a bit gradually. I have your best interests at heart. I care about your emotional well-being, you see.

When one first starts to learn Swedish, one gathers that many Swedish words are hybrids of smaller words stuck together to make new words. After a while, one is able to see the individual words, which gives one helpful hints about what the full word is (if one doesn't know all of the little words). The key is to find the root word and take it from there.

One word that causes much joy to us anglophones here in Sweden is "fart". As stupid and juvenile as it is, many English-speakers seem to have an inbuilt appreciation of farts and farting. I know this from experience, as I used to have a remote-control fart machine where I worked in London, and it was frequently borrowed from my desk for the purpose of trying to embarrass visiting Swedes in important meetings.

In any case, in Swedish, "fart" actually means "speed". Speed humps are called "farthinder" (read "fart hinder"- see Kodos's blog for an image).

But then there's also "infart", which is a drivers' entrance to a carpark (US/CAN: parking lot). "Infart" is a great source of amusement for us. It's seen as more of a rare talent than a carpark entrance.
During my visit to Gothenburg last week, I noticed this sign:
Now, I know that this is one of those hybrid words, and I do know what it means, but my stubbornly warped English brain couldn't help but ask itself a couple of stupid questions:

Does this mean that this will be your "last infart"? I can imagine that infarting could be a fairly dangerous action to undertake, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if one would only be capable of performing very few in one's lifetime.

Or, given that Swedish rarely (if ever) has apostrophes, could this be a "lastin' fart", you know the ones I mean; the ones that just seems to linger for what feels like an eternity?

As it turns out, it actually (quite boringly) means something like "loading entrance", or "delivery entrance". I know this because a van is a "lastbil" ("load-car"). How's that for an anti-climax, eh?

I'm convinced that the number of road accidents involving English-speaking drivers pissing themselves laughing could be reduced drastically if a different term could be used for these signs. It's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Thursday, June 8th, 2006:
The enigmatic Pussi in Sweden

What I think:

I've had a good few people wondering why I hadn't blogged for quite some time. Besides the obvious excuses of laziness, work, soul-incarceration, pursuit by the CIA, Brazilian waxings, lack of inspiration, being in two rock 'n' roll bands, ricin poisoning, and being kidnapped & made to work as a Zimbabwean tour guide, I've simply been sleeping.*

(*NOTE: Some of these excuses may not necessarily be true; delete those you don't believe. )

In any case, I recently visited Gothenburg to meet up and have drinks with a load of people who post regularly on the discussion forum on The Local (Sweden's news in English). This group consisted mainly of expats who now live in Sweden, but there were a couple of visiting Yanks, which was the main reason for our assembly (there was also a Brit who came specifically for the occasion, but he's from Burnley, so I'm not sure if I should count him). As can be expected with such a gathering, the conversation of some of this debauched lot inevitably turned to Pussi.

Before your minds plummet into the gutter (of bliss), Pussi is in fact a brand of cat food here in Sweden. Much merry mirth was had by all discussing the merits of Pussi; the fact that it's conveniently available in tin-form at your local supermarket, that it comes in many flavours (not just fish), and that it's fairly inexpensive to purchase.

As it turns out, my cat and I have something in common:
we both really enjoy a bit of Pussi quite regularly.

I think we have somewhat different ideas of what it should look & taste like;
I'm not so fond of the idea of going for duck & chicken flavour myself,
but to each their own, I say.
But honestly, just look at her idea of a good portion of Pussi:

There's simply too much confusion about the true meaning of Pussi in conversations in mixed crowds consisting of Swedes and non-Swedes. And cats and... err...non-cats. It's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.

Please feel free to leave a comment with stupid jokes about Pussi. I pretty much expect it anyway.