Sunday, June 29, 2008

T-minus one week

I haven't posted much this week; sorry. I did post every day last week, though. Anyways, a week from now, I'll be in Stockholm with Rutger, buying wheelbarrows and wireless broadband, and maybe insulation, too. Then to Aspö Sunday night and (hopefully) the foundations on Monday.

If the broadband works out, I'll be updating from the site.

UPDATE: I just talked to Willie, he says everything's set and I'll see him on Aspö Monday. It is hard doing all this remotely, through emails and mobile phone calls to busy Swedish builders. I'm looking forward to the three of us being able to talk in person and sort out all the final details for the build in August.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Today is Janne's; mine was three days ago. (Sooz and Margaret share the exact same birthday). Grant pointed out that, for those three days at least, he, Janne, and I all were ages that were perfect squares.

Reply in the comments if you can figure out how old we all are now. Remember to show your work.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Russia 3-1 Holland

Russia defeated Holland pretty comprehensively last night. They are a young, fast, aggressive team, fun to watch.

Russia joins Turkey, Germany, and the winner of tonight's Spain-Italy match in the semi-finals. They might go all the way.

Rutger's text to me after the match was not printable in a family blog.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Midsummer update

The weather is always bad on midsummer's day. I think it's a requirement. Obsessive reading of the weekend's weather forecast is a national sport.

However, I think Margaret and Janne might have caught it lucky. This is a snapshot of the Sandhamn camera and it looks pretty nice. It's only in the mid 60's (or high teens if you roll Celsius), so a little chilly.

I found a great article on the archipelago from the American Way magazine, and the city of Stockholm has a page about the islands, and one on midsummer, too.


Today is midsummer's day, the longest day of the year, and an important holiday in Sweden. My favourite quote is "Midsummer rivals Christmas as the most important holiday of the year due to the copious amounts of alcohol consumed." Past experience has shown me this is true.

Until recently, it was always celebrated on June 24, which happens to be my birthday. Now the official midsummer's holiday (Midsommarafton) is always the Friday before the 24th.

I am fairly sure that, as I write this, my Swedish friends are nursing a hangover of some description. A German IKEA ad illustrates the typical holiday gathering in an instructive way.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Two Jannes

I called Janne tonight out on Aspö and Margaret answered the phone! She hasn't been on the island too much, owing to her dedication to her bookstore. But it's the Midsummer holiday so she's out there, braving the traditional cold & rainy weather.

Anyways, Janne confirmed the helicopter so we'll be using them for sure. We also talked about the transfer of the house from the trailer to the boat. Janne has talked with Stefan so we should be fine. Janne also has the electricity in place and will assemble the pump system next week. Willie has not spoken to Janne yet about the foundations, however. We need to get the concrete and other material ordered.

So then I called Willie and he reports poor holiday weather up north. He's going to call Janne to go over the supply order which I believe Janne will complete; he has the connections and knowledge. Then I arrive Sunday night and schlep it all uphill, using the new wheelbarrow Rutger's going to buy for me. Whew!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Russia 2-0 Sweden

I'm posting from a sports bar in Moscow, a very interesting place from which to just have watched Russia comprehensively beat Sweden and send them home. I kept my Swedish support quiet, to be sure.

At least now there'll be no conflict Saturday night in
Marcia & Rutger's household! Most Swedes will be supporting Holland, I think.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Logistics again

Talked to Janne and we are getting closer on final details. Since the house is so darned heavy, it's going to take two boat trips. So we're going to have the house delivered to the dock on the Tuesday as planned, and set up the helicopter for Wednesday morning. Our new neighbor Claes had his extension choppered in, and with that info Janne extrapolated that it would cost us about 20,000kr to do what we need with the helicopter.

I won't say the budget is spiraling out of control, but it is gaining centrifugal force!!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Skit också!

Sweden were all over Spain in last night's game and should have been leading, but instead the match was heading towards an acceptable 1-1 draw until Spain scored in the 92nd minute. Now their chances of progressing are under threat.

What's worse is, if they do still qualify to go forward, they'll have to play Holland, who are on a tear right now, having demolished France 4-1 the other night. Looks like Marcia will have bragging rights in Marcia & Rutger's household.

PS. The title to this post means "damn it" in Swedish. At least I'm pretty sure it does. I trust Margaret to correct me if I'm wrong!!!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Internet access

I met one of Sooz's friends, Kerstin, and her husband, Ulf, the other night. (You can guess they're Swedish.) I really liked Ulf. They have a summer place down by us and they were very familiar with the area of our little island. So we spoke all evening of Swedish archipelago life, along with other things of great interest, like new iPhones.

Anyways, Ulf mentioned that one could buy a wireless broadband modem and then just pay by the week or month, rather than sign a 18-month contract for 3 months' usage. I looked it up and he's exactly right. This could be a lot cheaper. Either way, I will sign up for sure when I'm there in July. Stand by for live blogging from 59° 13' 10.20"N, 18° 45' 42.54"E!!

Email from Willie

...arrived quite early this morning, he must be an early riser. (Of course, the sun rose at 3:27AM today).

Anyways, lots of questions asked, and I hope, answered. We really are getting close. The transition from idea to reality is really starting to hit now. If only the dollar could recover just a teensy bit over the upcoming weeks......

Friday, June 13, 2008

Blog Design

As you can see, I've updated the blog's look. Comments welcomed!

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Stefan sent along the final detailed drawings and an informative 24-page construction manual (all in Swedish of course). Here's a couple of the more densely-rendered pages.

I mailed a printed copy to Janne, and I just spoke to Willie, too. He had spoken to Stefan already and he's going to go over the drawings tonight and then give Janne a call to order the foundation's materials.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Euro 2008

What with all this house-building stuff, I haven't mentioned the European football tournament going on right now.

Every four years, the best teams in Europe play in a tourney that is second only to the World Cup. This year, it's hosted by Austria & Switzerland. Shamefully, England did not qualify, and in embarrassing circumstances (losing at home to Croatia in the final game.) It is fun traveling in Europe during the tournament; every country is really up for it.

Anyways, Sweden won convincingly 2-0 last night against the 2004 winners, Greece. Zlatan Ibrahimović (pictured) scored a great goal. The Swedish keeper, Andreas Isaksson, plays for my team here in England, and he kept a clean sheet last night. The crowd was a sea of yellow; I wish I could've been there.

For the sake of Marcia (Rutger's gorgeous Dutch wife), I should mention that Holland crushed Italy 3-0.

Update: My mother asks why no posts about Denmark? I reminded her the Danes, too, failed to qualify, under even more tragicomical circumstances than England's.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lots of little things

First, Rutger called early today about the wheelbarrow to be sure what kind I needed- he's going to pick one up for me. And then Willie called and I told him I was going to be on Aspö for three days to help with the foundations. Willie will check back with Janne about ordering supplies and Janne will ensure they get sent to the dock.

We agreed I will be Willie's laborer for those days; I'm sure most of my job will be to schlep concrete up to the site from the dock. I talked to Ann this evening and she said Willie was welcome to stay at their house with me so he won't have to camp out. Bless her.

I sent Stefan an email about the full blueprints which Willie needs and Stefan replied very quickly they will be ready soon. Then I called Janne this evening and he advised me on the right type of wheelbarrow. Janne also told me he talked to Stefan today about the helicopter loads. Thirty or forty helicopter trips will take time- and money. So Janne discussed ways to package the house so the 'copter can carry the big heavy stuff and we can carry the smaller stuff ourselves.

Phew. I'm tired just writing this. And it's everyone else who did the work today!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Phone Tag

Willie and I have been playing phone tag. He's out in the wilds (with lousy mobile phone coverage), busy building, so he's hard to reach. I am a busy executive, traveling the world, get the picture. We've been leaving each other messages today.

I'll let you know when we talk.

Friday, June 6, 2008

National Day

Today is Sweden's National Day. I remember it more as Flag Day when I lived there, but it looks like it's gone more upmarket.

Also I heard from Stefan that our little house will be about 40 packages of 700kg each. That's 28,000 kilograms or 61,600 pounds. The helicopter's looking better and better now.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A few updates

I talked to Janne today, he says it's a beautiful evening on Aspö. (Today, the sun rose at 3:38 and will set at 9:56. Gotta love those long Swedish summer days.)

He said the electric company has new regulations and want to charge me twice, once for the temporary box, and again for the permanent one on the house. Janne said something impolite in Swedish to that, and has instead arranged for me to tap into Tony's electricity for our use during the building. That way, we get one charge when ours is hooked up permanently.

I also confirmed to him I was coming out in early July and he said of course I could stay with him. He also suggested I buy and bring along a big wheelbarrrow with an off-road tire, which is how everybody moves their goods along the island. He's also going to confirm the availability and cost of the helicopter.

Stefan has successfully received the deposit on the house I sent electronically, showing that my mastery of Swedish internet banking is nearly complete. And I transferred more money today as the kronor snuck up to 6.04. Wow.

The one snag is Willie the builder; neither Janne nor I have been able to reach him this week, and we both have details to discuss.