Saturday, January 14, 2006

Saturday, January 14th, 2006:
Sweden: A "promising" country

What I think:

Something I discovered fairly early on living in Sweden is that if you say you'll do something, it's automatically a "promise". If circumstances change which prevent you from doing what you said you'd do, you've broken your promise.

If you say something like, "Yeah, maybe we should meet up on Saturday", it means "I promise I will put Saturday aside and meet up with you." Then you end up going out and partying a bit too heavily on Friday night (until stupid o' clock in the morning), with a visiting friend you hadn't seen for ages. The next day, you're not really into meeting up to take a day-trip to Malmö to go walking around, maybe shopping, doing lunch, etc - you just want to sleep until noon, at least. Sitting on a train, and having a nice brisk stroll, simply isn't on your Top 10 list of things to do. It doesn't even make the Top 40, quite frankly.

"But you promised," will be the inevitable reply when you ring up to cancel. Regardless of the fact that you're very tired, badly hung over, and not feeling terribly energetic in general, following through and meeting up as "planned" would apparently be the "right thing to do". Even though you only said, "Yeah, maybe we should meet up on Saturday". If it comes out of your mouth, it's a promise.

Similarly, if you try to make arrangements to meet with someone, you might hear them say, "No, I can't do that on Wednesday, I promised my wife/girlfriend/Great Aunt Ida that I would cut her toenails on that day." If you then ask them whether they'd actually said "I promise I will cut your toenails on Wednesday", I bet you'll find that they did not. But try telling them that toenails don't grow too much in the space of a day, and that perhaps the cutting-of-the-toenails ceremony could take place on Thursday instead. No way; that would be going back on their word, and thus breaking their promise.

People here need to learn to live more flexibly, and accept possible changes to pre-arranged engagements. 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:

Sweden: Stockholm traffic slashed in first week of charge trial: Rush hour traffic in Stockholm has been slashed by between 25 and 30 percent since the city launched a trial of an intricate road toll system at the beginning of the month, officials said after the first full week. "This is beyond our expectations and the system is also working well technically," Erik Bromander, a finance ministry expert on the so-called congestion tax, told AFP.
From The Local - Sweden's News in English

US: Wildfires consume Oklahoma homes: Firefighters on Friday cleaned up the remnants of grass fires in southern Oklahoma that scorched up to 20,000 acres and destroyed more than two dozen homes and businesses overnight. The worst fire had raged in southern Oklahoma near the towns of Ratliff City and Fox. At one time, the blaze in Carter County was four miles wide and burned at least 20 homes.
From CNN

UK: 'British Pride Is Vital': In a speech to the Fabian Society, the Chancellor said identifying and sticking to 'British' values was vital if the country was to meet future challenges. He said Britishness meant "liberty for all, responsibility by all and fairness to all". He suggested having a clearer idea about British national identity would have helped people to see European integration as a benefit rather than a threat over the past 50 years.
From Sky News