Saturday, January 28, 2017

Time to turn to Eurovision

The holidays are over, and we've just about made it through January. Now is the time for my thoughts  to turn towards the Eurovision song contest.

The BBC held their song selection contest last night. It was nothing like the six-week, 60 song extravaganza held by the Swedes, although it was much more than the past few desultory shows held by the UK.

As usual, the contestants are drawn from the various TV singing contests, so at least the six performers could sing...most of them, that is.

The winner was Lucie Jones, with "Never Give Up on You." It's not that bad a song, and the early selection show gives her a few months to polish her performance. 

Ballads have a mixed record of success in the contest, but as we all know, anything can be a winning song on the night!

Next weekend is the start of the Melodifestival and I can't wait! Stay tuned for weekly updates.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Sweden's population: now 10 million

Today marks a significant milestone for the country of Sweden. The official statistics website,, announced this morning that its population clock has crossed the 10 million mark.

It's happened much sooner than originally thought. As recently as 2010, this mark wasn't due to be hit until 2021. Now, it looks like the 11 million mark might be hit by then!

About three-quarters of this rapid increase is due to immigration, with the remainder due to Sweden's high birth rate. Nordic Business has a good article (if slightly dated) about Sweden's huge population growth.

Perhaps one day, Sooz and I will add a couple of digits to that number!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Stair safety

I don't have too many projects to work on out at the house any more! I've been ticking them off one by one over the years.

One thing that I've been thinking about recently is the stairs out to our deck. Janne built me broad stairs all those years ago. But over time, the wood has become weathered and grey. This reduces the visibility of each step.

The stairs look wonderfully silvery in this photo, but they are hard to tell apart, especially in flat light. Wearing bifocals (as Sooz and I do these days) also add to the problem of depth perception.

The easiest solution is to add some tread tape to the edge of the stairs. That would provide both visual and tactile feedback about the edge of each step.

Even my ridiculously simple drawing of three black lines on the second photo shows how much more contrast is visible on those stairs.

There is a lot of science behind stair safety. It is clear that being able to clearly see and feel the edge of each step is helpful in reducing slips and falls.

I am going to try out tread tape this spring when we're out to the house next. I think I can do it in a way that looks decent. My main concern is such tape surviving the winter weather, but we'll have to experiment with that. I will report back more fully in a few months.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Gott Nytt År, allihopa!

Happy New Year to everyone. Here's to a better 2017!

Let's start the year with my monthly weather update. Not too much to report except a good period of rain just after Christmas. We certainly can use as much as rain as we can get!

The fun thing to see is the impact of my visit on December 19th. The indoor temperature, carbon dioxide, and especially the noise levels, all can be seen to jump on that day.

It will be interesting to fire up the luftpump remotely to warm up the house and monitor its progress.