Monday, February 27, 2012

Melodifestival 4 in Malmö

This was the last semi-final; next week is the selection from the "second chancers" in Nyköping, and then the whole show moves to Stockholm for the Grand Final.

There were a bunch of decent acts; I think the right ones went through. Lisa Miskovsky fulfilled the plaintive-blond-with-a-guitar slot by singing "Why Start a Fire", which was Sooz's favourite. I liked Danny Saucedo with the pumping Euro-Disco "Amazing" which had some very cool Tron-inspired costumes. (Costuming counts for a lot in Eurovision, remember). I wish I could share the performances, but SVT keeps a tight lid on any leaks.

Danny came in second last year with "In the Club" and I found a cute interview with him here.

I'm not that enthused over next week's crop. I'll have to have a careful think before the final and I'll make my prediction.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Princess Estelle

I posted the summer before last about the big Royal Wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and her Prince, Daniel.

Yesterday brought the latest good news for the couple, as Victoria gave birth to a healthy little girl, Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary, the new Duchess of Östergötland.

Here's news of the birth from the perspective of the Swedes, the English, and us Americans.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Electricity Usage

I just received my bi-monthly bill from Vattenfall, our electricity supplier. The December/ January usage cost me 1255 kronor, which averaged to 10.47 kilowatt hours per day.

This compared favorably to the 20.3 and 16.9 daily averages I had the past two December/Januarys. Much of that is due to the warmer winter we've had so far, but we spent a few days at the house in December 2010, which accounts for the spike, because we were pumping every radiator in the house then.

I also have the thermostat set at 9°C on the bathroom radiator this winter, which I think helps prevent overheating the area.

The Cinderella is the other big driver of electricity usage when we're at the house; it uses more juice than a radiator. I've been tracking the electricity usage closely, and I think I have enough data to make a chart comparing the last three years. It's not exactly Moneyball, but I think it's interesting.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Melodifestival 3 in Leksand

I thought the standard of performances was a lot better this week, although I failed horribly at choosing the winner. My two least favorite acts were the ones that went through; Molly Sandén with a turgid ballad, and the bizarre pairing of the orange-tanned sexagenarian Björn Ranelid speaking about love over a Europop dance refrain led by Sara Li.

A good summary from one of the many specialty Eurovision fansites can be read here.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Snow Moose

A friend visited the Sapporo Snow Festival recently (as you do) and sent along a photo of Sweden's entry. It's a moose in a box.

The moose is cute but not that sophisticated snow-wise; however, the detail of the cardboard box is amazing. The box flaps and the crease in the corner are all rendered delicately out of snow. The moose placed second to Hong Kong's dragon entry.

Click on the photo to see the moose's charming caption.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Melodifestial part 2

Last night's show from Göteborg was disappointing, frankly. The level of singing was even lower than usual and all the bad acts were just bad (not good-bad and therefore funny).

The two acts that went through were Ulrik Munther, a folk-Bieber type, and David Lindgren, who I can describe best as "Swedish hip-hop meets Don Draper".

I am sure we won't be seeing either of them in Baku.

UPDATE: Margaret sent me a blog of an American ex-pat living in Sweden who posted an excellent summary of the show.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Webcams

I really get a kick out of looking at webcams around the world. I have two on this blog, a Sandhamn camera run by Waxholmsbolaget, and a Stavsnäs cam run by a resident in the apartments next to the local ICA. I also have a couple of my own in our house in Texas to keep an eye on Ollie.

To be honest, I would love to have a webcam out on Aspö so I could keep an eye on the house, to see the weather first-hand, and maybe to catch a moose snapshot or two. I found a blog run by a gentleman who owns land in Wales, and set up a solar-powered webcam to upload regular pictures onto his website. To be honest, I have been looking at it most every day.

For me, it'd be easier to set something like this up. I at least have electric power, rather then relying on a solar cell as this gentleman has to. I would have to keep my internet connection on full-time, so I'd be paying about 200kr a month while I am away, so that would add up.

The biggest thing keeping me from doing this, though, is the distance. It seems pretty certain that during the months I am away, something would stop working.
And therein lies the problem. If I set up a webcam and it stopped working, that would drive me crazy. I would be far better off not having it in the first place.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The melodifestival is back!

The first tiny stirrings of Spring are beginning, ironically on the coldest day yet of this Swedish winter. Yes, I'm talking about the Melodifestival, the six-week contest on SVT to decide the country's entry into the Eurovision song contest.

The Swedes really like to stretch it out. Most countries have chosen already; all but a very few will do so over the next few weeks. Sweden is last, as the grand final won't be until March 10. A good chart of each country's entry can be found on Wikipedia.

Saturday's first show was from Växjö, a town of about 65,000 people in south-central Sweden. It had the usual selection of sexy, execrable and kooky performances. The first winner was Dead By April, with a Lincoln Park-esque dual-vocal hard rock ballad.

More intriguing was the second winner, Loreen, a young lady with a fantastically shaggy haircut, mysterious lighting, a costume with some sort of reverse cleavage, but most importantly, a pumping Eurodisco ballad, "Euphoria", which really hits the Eurovision hot buttons in my opinion. She's one to watch, and you can see her here, at least until SVT puts out a copyright notice.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Snowy photos from Annika

It's darn cold out on Aspö this weekend. The Stavsnäs webcam said it was -24°C this morning! It appears most of Europe is in an icy grip right now.

Annika sent along a few new wintry photos from this weekend and they are added to her gallery.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Another funky island house

Marcia was watching a TV show the other day about "odd or dream houses" in Sweden. She saw one by a Dutch architect, Boris Zeisser, that she was compelled to tell me about. One of the most interesting elements of the house (besides its being built by a Dutchman) is an extendable room which can be winched out over a stream, in the style of Fallingwater, and then pulled back in for the winter months.

Because of this extendable room, the architects call it the Dragspelhuset, or "Accordion House". Details can be seen on this blog entry. Good catch!!!