Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Olympic Ice Hockey final

We're all watching it here, 8PM London time. I've been texting Wille through the game and we're both thrilled the USA just tied it up with 20 seconds left.

UPDATE: Damn. Crosby scored the winner for Canada in OT.

The latest from the melodifestival

Not too sure about the winners last night in Malmo. Nothing I've seen so far seems like it could compete at the grand final.

Here is the last place contestant, Py Bäckman, in some sort of a sartorial Ozzy Osborne hommage. The 7th place finisher, Sibel, performed a quintessential Eurovision song. A quintessential 80's song, however.

If you want to see Dolph Lundgren being sent to a gay bar after consultation with Lisbeth Salander, be my guest. But consider yourself warned.

Friday, February 26, 2010

More electricity news

I got my Vattenfall invoice for December and January today. This was the first real 'winter' bill since the water machinery was installed.

The usage was about 17 kilowatt-hours per day during this period, contrasting with just over 5 daily in the summer. That seemed high to me at first blush, but I do have three separate heaters running right now:
  1. A radiator in the bathroom primarily to keep the washing machine from freezing
  2. The warming box under the house for the water systems
  3. An electrical cable in the well hose to protect the water pump itself
If you figure each of these devices runs at around 500 watts each (remember it's been very cold lately), that would easily account for 17 kWh per day.

My original budget all those years ago was for about 2500kr per year on electricity. It looks like I was half right; my usage for 2009 was about 5000kr. I'd like to cut down on this electrical usage going forward. There may well be a lot of wasted heat I could avoid next winter. Can I turn down the thermostats? Is there another way to protect the washing machine? I'll be looking into all the ways I can save a watt or two.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Snow Update

Wille talked to Stefan this morning about the risk of snow accumulation. The biggest concern with a house out on its own in the woods like ours is that the snow can drift, concentrating weight dangerously on one part of the roof.

He also called Tommy today about stopping by to check our roof later in the week. Living nearby, and having access to a taxi boat, makes it comparatively easy for him to do that.

I also spoke to Annika and Olle, our neighbors. (The Aspö resident's directory comes in handy for that.) They said things looked good on their last visit a couple of weeks ago. Annika, a long-term resident herself, also told me that there's been more snow on the island this winter than she's seen in many years.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Melodifestival Round 3

I've gone with the 7th-placed performance this time. The act that came in last was bad, but not good-bad like this one.

Enjoy Elin Lanto's amazing staging: the mannequins, the dual big-haired girl drummers, PVC tights, stick-on facial jewels, and of course the wind machine.

Also: I forgot to mention that Dolph Lundgren is a co-host for the proceedings. You can see his first two appearances here and here. I wouldn't operate heavy machinery after viewing; it's pretty mind-altering to see Ivan Drago in this context.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Heavy Weather: Updated

There's a lot of snow falling right now in the Stockholm area. Another 8-12 inches are forecast overnight, and it's -10°C (14°F) to boot.

As I posted previously, that much snow weighs quite a bit. An 8 inch accumulation on our house would weigh 2,000kg (4,400lb)! It's fortunate our metal roof was put up in time.

The Local has a story about the issues caused by the harsh winter so far. There are a lot of collapsed roofs and transportation problems out there, but I'm confident our little house will be fine.

UPDATE: Wille called me this morning and he's a little less confident; he thinks there's probably a meter of snow on our roof now. He's going to call Stefan tomorrow to get his advice. If we think it's necessary, he can send somebody out to do shovel the roof. I'm also going to try to talk to Janne (in his Florida hideaway) for his advice.

Friday, February 19, 2010


I've made a number of posts in the past about putting a fireplace in the house. Every Swedish home I've visited has a well-used fireplace.

Besides fulfilling Scandinavian tradition, our little cabin could use a fireplace for many reasons. Having a cozy fire in our little house is of course very appealing. And the practical considerations for an island cabin are compelling, too. There's an abundance of wood (and paper scrap) to burn, and the extra warmth would be very welcome in April and October!

There are many modern fireplaces available, but my favourites are made by Focus, a French company. Their website is an exquisite example of house-porn. Of all their models, one that may actually fit in our house is the wall-mounted émifocus.

I see only two places where it might fit; against the bathroom wall, or next to the couch. Posted above are a couple of laughably poor mockups I made to see how such a fireplace might look. Sooz prefers one and I the other. Guesses in the comments on who prefers which!

Of course, this is a bit of a dream. The Focus fireplaces are 70,000 kronor at least, and probably that again for installation. Even a non-designer fireplace would be pretty expensive. And my insurance costs go up significantly if I install a fireplace. So, for now, at least, the idea is a non-starter. But it is fun to look.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Times like this make me glad I live in London

The Tate Modern just opened a huge De Stijl exhibition.

One of my very first posts was about my love for De Stijl, so I am really looking forward to going. I will report when I do!

Melodifestival Round 2

Keeping up my tradition of showing the 8th-placed contenders, here's Hanna Lindblad with her performance in Sandviken last night of "Manipulated".

The only word I can use to describe it is... kinky.

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Stockholm's 30,000-Island Smorgasbord"

The weekend Wall Street Journal has a great article on winter in the archipelago. Check it out here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A snag

We just found out that Ollie's dog-sitter, Ethie, won't be available to be with him during our upcoming Easter trip.

That really throws a spanner in the works, as Ethie's the only person Ollie's ever stayed with, and we trust her completely. Especially given his spinal condition, I can't see myself leaving him with anybody else. I worry too much about Ollie already; this is really going to weigh on my mind now. Darn.

As things stand, assuming our trip goes ahead, it seems the best option is for either Sooz or Grant to stay behind. Two of us need to be on Aspö to carry out the decking and our spring IKEA order.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Monday, February 8, 2010

"The snow may have saved the ticks from the cold"

Found this disappointing news on the SVT website as I was trolling Eurovision clips:

Many hope that the cold will kill ticks and snails. However, insects are safe in the ground and waiting for spring in the insulating blanket of snow lying over the country.

In recent years, mild winters have been favorable for these creatures that many fear. But, to many people's chagrin, not even the cold of winter kills ticks and snails. Lars-Ake Janzon, biologist of the Museum of Natural History, says he gets many calls from people asking if the cold is killing those creatures.

"The snow insulates against the cold, those who were in the ground before the snow came will likely be safe", he says.

In December the whole country was covered with snow, and inland regions are hoping their tick plague may be mitigated in the summer.

"Frozen ticks have managed to keep alive for six years. They are survivors who found their own niche in the wild, "says Lars-Ake Janzon.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Melodifestival is back!

Last night was the first semi-final in Örnsköldsvik. Two winners will be picked every Saturday until the grand final in Stockholm March 13.

Two excellent resources for the contest are wikipedia, of course, and, the state television website. SVT is only in Swedish, but it's not hard to get the gist.

The winners of last night's semi were Salem Al Fakir and Ola Svensson, which tells you a lot about Swedish society today.

I have posted the performance of Jenny Silver, with "A Place To Stay." She didn't go through; in fact she was 8th (out of 8). It really is deliciously bad. That costume? The shiny tights? The hair? The wildly flailing free arm? The single titanium glove? Amazing.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I've been spending some time on, the country's official website.

As you might expect, there's a lot about Swedish life and culture. But there's a lot of surprising information from different sources, too. The design and focus of the website is pretty impressive. It's worth a look.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Buddy Holly

A year ago, I wrote a long off-topic post on Buddy Holly. Don't worry; I'm not going to do it again.

All I'm going to do this time is encourage you to click on this link, spend 99¢, and listen closely.