Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Another bill

Margret's advised of the 10,000 kronor planning permission charge I had originally planned for. The other 14,375 kr I had posted about before was unbudgeted. Sigh.

Plus a potential helicopter, and the dollar's below 6.00 again...it's looking unlikely for the eco-friendly insulation.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Janne talked to Willie last week and they discussed logistics. When we build the house in August, Willie and his crew will need a place to stay- and that means essentially camping, at least until the small house is done and can be used to sleep in. And of course all these strapping Swedes will need feeding and watering. It might be 5 or 6 guys for 5 or 6 days, so that's a lot of chow and a lot of sleeping rough.

Janne had the suggestion of using a helicopter to lift everything from the dock to the building site. It's only 400-500 meters or so, but it's going to take all of us probably 2 days to hand carry it all uphill and overland. Janne's point is that we could do all that with a copter in a hour instead, with a lot less chance of injury or damage, and a lot quicker start to the actual building.

It's not cheap, of course, but saving 2 days of Willie's time has a lot of value. Plus it is pretty cool. I wonder if I could play "Ride of the Valkyries" as we circle the island....

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Final

Dima Bilan of Russia was voted the winner. My friends Craig and Andy correctly picked it. (Craig, amazingly enough, did so before the competition itself, based on performance order and political grounds). Andy, at least, is a professional musician so he had some basis for choosing (not that musicianship counts for much in the Eurovision!)

Although I liked Greece, as I posted before, I picked Turkey on the night. I was pretty close; Greece was third and Turkey fifth (I think). But no winner.

The French performance was bizarre. Their video was great but on the night it was just weird. Lots of fake beards, for one. Charlotte Perelli didn't fare too well; I still think her performance was much better in the melodifestival. The poor UK came in last, undeservedly so. I really liked their song.

So now back to the work of house-building in the archipelago!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The second semi-final

Just now finished the second show. Our Charlotte did well for Sweden but Sooz thinks she over-did the botox. Ani Lorak from the Ukraine won my unofficial 'babe of the night' award (although Bulgaria gave her a run for her money). There were a couple of comedy entries through, namely Latvia (all dressed as pirates) and Croatia.

Among the losers, the Lithuanian singer sported a world-class mullet. And Morena from Malta performed a stunning 180bpm dance anthem to the joys of vodka. Really.

I'm looking forward to seeing the French entry on Saturday; the video looks class.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The first semi-final

It was great fun. The Serbian hosts have a brilliant set and wonderfully cheesy presenters. Ireland and Belgium (using a made-up language!) were dire and didn't go through. Of the winners, lots of funny little details; the Polish singer had the most amazing white teeth and Azerbajan's duo were glass-shattering male vampire sopranos. Brilliant.

Of the bunch, Kalomira from Greece looks like the likeliest winner to me. UPDATE: I saw an interview with her, and she was sporting a perfect Long Island accent. Turns out she grew up in New York.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The more the merrier

Ann has just reported that the Gods of frequent flier miles have
smiled unexpectedly upon them, and they will now be able to be in Aspö
when we're there in August.

This will cause us to decamp to their guest house, but it will greatly
increase the fun factor!

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Mailbag

Got three pieces of Swedish mail today.

1. The contract from Stefan, which we've signed and will mail back tomorrow. When that's agreed, the full production blueprints will be made, which both Jannes are looking for.

2. My bank statement, which showed my recent transfer went through at 5.98 to the dollar. Ugh.

3. Two bills from the kommun, for the building and environmental permits, courtesy of Margaret. I managed to pay them online (with Sooz's considerable help). The cost for both was 14,375kr; I had budgeted 10,000kr.

There was a nice sense of accomplishment to get everything signed, paid, and filed. I imagine actually assembling the house will bring a much greater sense of accomplishment, though!

It's Eurovision week!

What with all this activity recently, I've almost forgotten that this is Eurovision week!

Tomorrow night is the first semi-final, followed by the second semi on Thursday. Then the big show on Saturday.

I will be posting after each show for sure. The BBC has a great website on the history of the show (among other info) here.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Talked with Janne last night and he has received the water pump and associated fittings; it was part of a larger order he placed for a bunch of work he's doing. He will get it installed next week. The electricity isn't there just yet, but the paperwork has been processed so it should be a matter of days. Janne is confident of having everything in place by June 1 as planned.

And, right on cue, I just got an email from Willie, who says it's snowing up where he is! He's proposing week 28 (July 7) to do the foundations. He's going to call Janne tomorrow to sort out logistical details. I'm also going to ask Stefan to send along any further construction drawings.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Insulation, Pt. 4

I talked to Stefan yesterday morning about the details for the insulation. The big house has 5 floor (and roof) cavities, 1200mm wide, about 10.5m long, and 300mm deep. Stefan strongly suggests putting in as much insulation as possible during building, because it's quite difficult to do after the fact. He also prefers ecological insulation, but also reports that most of his clients use standard insulation.

After some math, I figured the floors and roof needed about 84 rolls of insulation. I sent emails to both the sheep's wool and flax providers I blogged about earlier, and received replies within a couple of hours.

I'm going to find out how much plain ol' mineral wool insulation costs next. My concern is that the ecological alternative, as attractive as it is, will end up being significantly more expensive. Given my well-documented concerns about the dollar, this may be an extra cost we can't bear.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The X-house contract

Stefan and I have been emailing over the final contract of the house. He has agreed to keep the same price from his original quote of 10 months ago, which is appreciated.

I've also decided to stick with a 78mm thickness for the walls of the little house. This makes it a 'summer-only' building, but realistically, we'll only be using it as a guest bedroom in the summer anyways. The walls of this house will be planed smooth; we've decided to leave the big house a bit 'rough' to give it texture and help it fit into the landscape. Otherwise, it might have looked a bit too much like this.

30% of the cost is due upon signing the contract. So we're really committed now!

Friday, May 9, 2008


I'm in Dallas on a business trip but that hasn't stopped me from getting a few things set.
  • Stefan has confirmed our August 5 delivery date (although he hasn't mailed us the contract just yet)
  • Ann and Dave have graciously reconfirmed their generous offer of their house for our use during construction
  • I bought the SAS tickets for our trip, we'll stay with Margaret on the weekend before and then head off to Aspö on Monday
Janne's still working on the electricity and water, and he and Willie will firm up the plans for the foundations, which are (hopefully) only 7 weeks away!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Willie just called

...and he says he can do the foundation work, probably early July. He's going to call Janne to go over details. I'm still planning to go over to help if possible. This gives me a couple more months to work on my cardboard model!!

Monday, May 5, 2008

A scale model

It was a rainy bank holiday today so I thought I'd use up some of my 'I wish I was building' energy and made a little scale model out of cardboard.

Obviously I'm not an architect, but it doesn't look like it was made by someone with serious motor disorders, so I'm happy.

It does have a practical use to help determine placement of things, especially electricity. I may make little scale furniture and tiny Cinderellas and Rubrik cabinets, too. Or maybe not.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Talked to Janne again...

...this sunny Sunday afternoon. He really is backed up with work as described before, and although he would and will do the foundations if necessary, it would really help him out if Willie could do the work.

I sent Janne's contact info to Willie and the two of them should talk this week. Janne will have the electricity and water up and working by June 1. We need a couple of weeks for the foundations to cure, so we can do them as late as mid-July.

Grant and I still plan to come out and help once the work gets scheduled. It's probably good that Willie would be able to see the site before the home delivery day so he can be better prepared for the big assembly on August 5.