Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Happiness Index

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has published a fascinating study of happiness across nations. Their website is an interactive and instructive way to spend a few minutes (or more, in my case).

There's no surprise that Scandinavian countries rank highly, but Australia and the USA are right up there, too.

Both left-leaning and right-leaning organizations use the data to support their points of view, of course. The fun thing about the OECD website is that one can input the things that are most personally important, and make comparisons from there. It's definitely worth a look!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas!

We went to Crested Butte for a few days of skiing over the holidays. We had a great time. Merry Christmas everybody!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Electricity analysis

I posted earlier this year about electricity use over the past 3 years. This chart is a bit different.

Here, I'm comparing the temperatures against the energy usage. There are lots of websites with historical weather data. I used the mean low temp for each two month period. Clicking on the chart makes it full-size.

It's no shocker to say that, the colder it gets, the more electricity gets used.

Yellow arrows indicate times we stayed at the house; this explains the ginormous spike at Christmas 2010. In fact, that spike is quite instructive. If and when we spend more time at the house in the spring and fall, we'll be paying a pretty penny (or öre) to keep the radiators on. We'll have to find a better way to warm the house... but that's a subject for discussing later!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

This is my kind of house!

Dwell magazine (those shameless purveyors of modern house porn) have a slideshow online of a house I just love.

It's a steel cantilevered prefab structure, bolted onto a rock in the wilds of Washington state. The story of its construction is quite interesting, too.

Our little place in Aspö shares a bit of its DNA, I think, with its perch on a rock, and its cantilever over the woods below. I'm not sure the Värmdö planning authorities would have approved it, though!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Happy Lucia Day!

This is my fifth Lucia on the blog. In trying to find something new about Lucia for me to post here, I found a hot new local restaurant of the same name. I'll have to try that out. But I digress.

I did manage to find something new on the web that describes the history of Lucia and her traditions pretty well. 

Sooz has been baking Christmas cookies up a storm, I will see if I can get her to make some Lussekatter, too!

Sunday, December 9, 2012


I mentioned snowy Stockholm in my previous post. Well, there's been a lot of snow lately. Olle sent me a message, saying there was 40cm (16 inches) of snow in his back garden. I assume Aspö has the same, although the weather in the archipelago can be different. But the Stavsnäs and Sandhamn webcams give me a fairly close view, and there's a lot of snow there, too!

I found one more webcam that has been taking up a lot of my time: a nearly-live video of Stureplan. It's fun to watch the commuters and Christmas shoppers bustling about.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Island trivia

I've posted before about the brilliant @Sweden twitter account, in which a different citizen takes control of the country's official twitter feed for a week. There's been quite an array of different people tweeting about their varied lives and experiences.

This past week's curator has been an oceanographer, and he's posted a number of interesting facts and photos about sea life in the Baltic. I found this tidbit particularly interesting:

  • Sweden has almost 220,000 islands. Approximately 98,000 are in the ocean, the rest in rivers and lakes
  • Only 1085 of these islands are inhabited (as of 2008). This corresponds to only 0.5% of all Swedish islands
  • All together, islands make up only 2.6% of Sweden's total area (although their cultural importance is far greater!)
Although it's balmy here in Texas, and snowy in Sweden, I'd still rather be there today!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Eurovision Update

The Guardian is reporting (in their usual snarky tone of voice) that a number of countries will likely decline to participate in next year's contest. Poland, Portugal, Cyprus, and Greece are all said to be pulling out for financial reasons. None of them are historical powerhouses in the contest, however, so not a big loss there.

The winning country has to hold the next year's contest. The cost for doing so can be enormous. It's long been rumored that Ireland deliberately tanked their 1995 entry because the cost of hosting three consecutive wins in 1992-94 nearly bankrupt the state broadcaster, RTÉ. (They put forth their usual effort in 1996 and of course, won again!)

That said, the contest in Malmö doesn't seem to be suffering. The first tranche of tickets sold out in 20 minutes last week. Even better news is that the Melodifestival starts two months from today!