Sunday, February 26, 2017

Melfest recap

Last night was the end of the semifinals in Skellefteå. There was a bit of a bombshell in that Loreen, a previous Eurovision winner, only made it to the "second chance" round.

Wiktoria, whose entry had an elaborate light show last year, went very simple this time, and made it to the final easily:

I think Loreen's performance was a touch too art-school symbolic for the Mello crowd, although I have to give her credit for doing something differently:

The second-chance show is next week, and the grand final is in Stockholm on March 11. Can't wait!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A new chair

Sooz has always wanted another chair for the house. When we have guests and it's not nice enough to sit on the deck, everyone tends to pile onto our couch.

She wanted to have a simple but nice chair we could easily move around as needed. The problem is the chairs we saw were too large or heavy to be as mobile as we wanted, and lighter chairs were not nice enough.

We had a brainwave recently, however. Our breakfast table here in London has Eames armchairs, which are very light and comfortable. Sooz thought we could get an Eames rocker which we could move around the house with ease.

I liked the idea, too. One problem is that the chair is a single piece of plastic, not like an IKEA flat-pack. The box would be too large to easily transport on our usual plane-bus-boat journey. It would have to be delivered to Aspö, or at least to the harbour at Stavsnäs.

I did a bit of googling to find a Swedish vendor of the Eames rockers, and found a few. Sooz has accepted the assignment of buying one and having it delivered to Aspö during our next visit. I will report on her progress.

UPDATE March 10: Sooz has placed the order, and the chair should be delivered to Aspö the week we're there.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Big Mac Index

It's been a few years since I posted about the Economist's Big Mac Index. I think it's time for a revisit.

To recap, the Economist started the index as a way to measure global currencies against the dollar. McDonald's is very good at making their Big Mac exactly the same everywhere. In a perfect world, the currency-adjusted cost of a Big Mac in each country would also be the same as the cost in the US.

Any disparity over or below the US cost would expose that currency as overvalued or undervalued against the dollar. Over the years, the index has become more sophisticated. Their most recent index is a lovely interactive website that allows looking at all sorts of data in a range of countries.

The currency we're most interested in is the kronor, of course. It has been consistently overvalued against the dollar; in fact, the Swedish currency has been consistently overvalued for more than a decade, along with the Norwegian kronor and Swiss franc.

The good news is that lately, the kronor has been much closer to its "true" value. The Economist calculates that the kronor should be about 9.5 to a US dollar. Lately it's been about 9.2. This is as close as its gotten to parity in almost 15 years. Now if we could do something about the Pound Sterling!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Melodifestival, Parts 1 and 2

We watched the initial show from Göteborg last weekend in Minnesota. My sister Kelly had her first experience with the madness that is "Mello". Ace Wilder was back again, and she made it to the final, along with new artist Nano. Kelly's favourite act was by Road Trip. It's a perfectly wacky Melodifestival song:

Tonight's show from Malmö provided pretty slim pickings. The two winners, boy-bandy Benjamin Ingrosso and dreadlocked Mariette, were far ahead of the rest of the pack. (Although Lisa Ajax's song "I Don't Give A" has a controversy over the word that you can probably have guessed that came next in the lyrics.)

I've also found SVT's Melodifestival page in English. I'm of two minds about that. It is much easier for me to get Melfest gossip, but I rather liked having to work for it!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

January's weather

Here's the January recap. It was a darned mild and dry month. There were a few days early in the new year below freezing, but the rest of the month was well above zero.

There were a few days of rain around the 10th, but that was essentially it.

I don't mind the warmer temperatures; it is good for the wildlife, although the lack of snow is another worrying reminder of climate change. It's the lack of rain that is a problem, given that all Aspö residents are reliant on their well water!

Friday, February 3, 2017

RIP Buddy

Ironically, I'm not far from Clear Lake, Iowa,  tonight. It's my mom's birthday and we're in Minneapolis to celebrate. It is darned cold. I wouldn't blame Buddy Holly at all for wanting to avoid a long bus ride on a night like this.

Today's picture is from his last concert at the Surf Ballroom. There aren't many images from that show 58 years ago.

I recently found a website collecting all of the songs found on Buddy's tape recorder after his death. In some of the recordings, the sounds of apartment life are heard in the background, which make them both charming and heartbreaking.

Today's selection is from those recordings: Buddy's beautiful version of Dearest.