Monday, December 29, 2014

My kind of tent

I stumbled across a little high- concept tent which was erected on Gotland this summer.

This is from the website of Avantika Agarwal, a London- based designer. She has a few more photographs and a video of its construction on her site.

She worked in collaboration with the design house featuringfeaturing, who also have a bunch of pictures of their own.

I like how the landscape is identical to Aspö's. Perhaps if we get lots of visitors one summer, I'll make a tent like this one for the overflow guests!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Happy Boxing Day!

We received a photo from our neighbors Raymond and Eva. I'm glad they visited. I love the picture, and I'm glad to see the deck is still standing!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

God Jul!

Good Jul from Kalle Anka och hans vanner. (or, for my English-speaking friends, Merry Christmas from Donald Duck and his friends.)

I've blogged most every year about the odd tradition of the entire country sitting down— right at this exact moment, in fact—to watch the same Disney cartoons at 3PM every Christmas Eve. (The Slate article about this phenomenon is certainly worth a read.)

Everyone at Hus Langford wishes a God Jul to our devoted readers! Here is to a great 2015.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Searching in Swedish / Söka på Svenska

Not to get too technical here, but I've come across something interesting that may be of use to my multi-national readers. I mentioned recently that my friend Anette sent me a great link to a Swedish distributor of party lights.

I had been searching quite extensively (or so I thought), but the website she forwarded was new to me. Why might that be? One advantage was that Anette was searching in Swedish, and although I try to use Swedish words, she, as a native, is obviously a lot better at it. Another trick is to use instead of as a starting point. Starting a search from a .se domain, and using Swedish words in the search, is the best way to find Swedish results. Makes sense, doesn't it?

One other way to improve the results of web searching is to use a VPN, or virtual private network. VPNs can be used to make you appear as if it you're in a different country.

When accessing a website, one's location is identified to a degree. If I'm in Chicago and type "Bears" into google, I'm going to first get results for the NFL football team, and not information about the kinds of bears that live in the woods. If I'm in the US, and searching for party lights, I'm going to see local providers, not ones in Europe.

A VPN can get around that location information and allow the user to 'pretend' they are in a different country. Such an ability can be useful for many reasons. Turkey, for example, has banned Twitter for political reasons, and a Turkish citizen can't access twitter from their country. If, however, that citizen used a VPN to pretend they were in a different country, they can get around their government's restrictions and tweet away.

More prosaically, some entertainment is restricted to the country of origin for rights purposes. I can watch "Saturday Night Live" on Hulu here in Texas, but I can't when I am in Sweden. A VPN would allow me to appear to the Hulu folks like I'm in the USA, so I can watch shows just as if I'm on my couch at home, even though I am very far away.

A VPN helps a lot if I am looking for Swedish content when I'm not in Sweden. I just set my VPN to make me look like I'm in Stockholm, and voila! I have the best of both worlds.

There are dozens of VPNs available, most are free, or very low cost. I use one called Tunnelbear, as it works simply on all my my Apple devices. It's worth giving it a try to see what the internet looks like from a different country!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Party Lights, part 2

My Swedish friend Anette read my recent post about party lights. She sent me a fantastic link to a Swedish vendor who sells exactly what I was looking for.

I can specify the length of the light string, how close I want the bulbs to be spaced, and choose my own bulbs from an assortment. Perfect.

The one hitch is that, like many Swedish goods, it's expensive. A 6 meter (20-foot) string with the simplest lamps would cost over a thousand kronor (about $140). That is quite a bit more than the UK alternative I had posted about before.

However, it's always good to buy things locally. Importing things one-off has caused me trouble before. I think we'll wait until we're at the house next, so we can have a good think and measure about just what we want to do with the lights. If I am going to order a customised string of Swedish lights, I want to be sure we get just what we want!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Happy Lucia!

St. Lucia's Day is today. has an amusing video about the holiday and its traditions.

If you're interested in more amateur writings on holiday, I have 7 years' worth of Lucia posts on the blog.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Introduction V

It's been over a year and a half since my last introductory post, so I thought it time to update the introduction series on this blog. New readers should click on that link first to get a concise summary on what's happened over the years.

I had bragged in my introductory last post the blog had over 60,000 visits. As of today, that figure is nearly 110,000! Many of those new visitors are thanks to the link from the very cool website Cabin Porn.

We've done a few things to the house over the past 18 months. Most significant is the painting of the exterior with linseed oil paint. I also built a large deck this summer which gives us a significant new living space.

I made a list in 2008 of all the things I wanted to do to the house. With the exception of a fireplace or heat pump, the list is now complete. We are definitely moving from 'building' to 'living' in our little cabin!

Personal circumstances have made that transition easier. I stopped working this year and have found myself sliding a bit towards retirement. I'd like to get back to work, but I haven't yet found the right thing. So Sooz and I took advantage of all my free time to spend most of this past summer on Aspö. Being there for a month is a lot different than a week or two! We were able to connect a lot more fully with island life and our friends there.

I've been keeping the blog updated 8-10 times a month, with my usual mix of practical, cultural, and especially toilet-related information. Given my greater free time, I've tried to make the posts a bit longer and more polished. Feedback on that is appreciated.

Grant has graduated college and he's working at a job he really likes. Ollie is fully settled into Texas life. I haven't yet driven Sooz crazy from being constantly underfoot. Life is good.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Melodifestival is on the horizon

I know it is early to start talking about next year's Melodifestival. However, a show as ambitious as this one takes a great deal of planning to accomplish.

SVT just announced the 28 names of this year's hopefuls. The official Eurovision website has a detailed rundown of the performers.

For a quick look, the Local has a simple page of photographs.

Sooz's favorite hunks Erik Saade and Måns Zelmerlöw are back, so I know she'll be watching!