Thursday, December 13, 2007

Air Force Warthog

I haven't posted anything in ages, but today I stood right under a landing US Boeing C-17 Globemaster III (also here and here). It was awesome.


(Picture from wikipedia, not mine)

Supposedly, it was the Estonian batallion that's part of the coalition forces returning from Iraq.

As usual, things are incredibly busy - a bunch of turmoil in the company, I've joined a choir and am learning Estonian, and on Monday morning I'm heading to Gothenburg to celebrate Christmas. We'll be in Sweden until the 26th and I'd love to see some old friends.

I should probably get into a habit of posting more regularly if I'm intending to keep a blog (which doesn't happen when I'm always planning to write huge pretentious posts). But also, I've decided to explore what's possible to achieve with a wiki, piracy (also here and here) and virtualization (also here) and you know, change the world in general.

I've got a bunch of new stuff online, check out my flickr profile page which currently ties it all together. Ask me if you haven't seen it yet. Soon I may be moving to an official blog as well.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Social networking - making the world really small

Haven't blogged in a while. Never mind that.

The other day I realized it is not only Estonia which is a small place - this whole thing, cyberspace, blogosphere, what'ya'call'it, is becoming - or maybe is making the entire world, a really, really tiny place.

As I was ready a rather silly article on swedish Today's News ("Dagens Nyheter"), about someone who as a publicity stunt had placed a significant kiss-mark on some modern art masterpiece. Beside the article in the "blogs about this" box was a link saying "Here's the painting the woman in France kissed". Silly as I am I of course checked it out, and found Jack Hansen, self-made expert in guerilla marketing and search engine optimization.

This guy's blog was pretty interesting - no doubt was he good at attracting traffic, he had at least lured me in there with a pretty meaningless entry about a modern art painting, but I was disappointed to see as so often seems to be the case, the people best at getting your attention have the least to say, at least in what you came there for in the first place - "Empty barrels make the most noise".

Either way, one thing Jack was writing about was how he desperately wanted to be a beta tester of Spotify. That's interesting, I have heard of Spotify but do not quite remember what it is, Jack seem to think it is the coolest thing since sliced bread. So what does google and wikipedia say about Spotify? Well, this wikipedia diff on Ludvig Strigeus pretty much says it all. Very cool, so that is what my old prodigal classmate is doing nowadays. Sounds so much better than "working for the automotive industry".

Also, the other day I met the guy pretty much responsible for nicking Chalmers programming language guru Lennart Augustsson to dump that boring old university for an investment bank. He had a whole bunch of interesting stories to tell, and pretty much summed his profession up as "locating people who are desperately trying to cut a steak with their forks, then finding and selling them a knife". That sounds like a nice business, beneficial for all; the people who get to eat their steak, for he or she who sells the knife as well as the knife him or herself.

They say that once you graduate, your most valuable book is going to be the address book. Speaking of which, Sugardaddy, if you're reading this, I have got a most interesting business project in mind; involving some valuable technology evangelization, and a whole heap of excellent, unsold knives. I'll be in touch.

Friday, March 30, 2007

”Now there’s a red light blinking there, has it been all the time?”


Lately I've been following the "Chairman Persson" documentary on swedish television. For those of you unaware of the situation, Göran Persson was first a high-ranking official in the social democrat administration, later became minister of finances and finally sat as party-leader and prime minister for some eleven years. Already at the beginning of that story, in particular one reporter, Erik Fichtelius, got his background stories much through Persson and managed to get an agreement to continue that kind of semi-confidential interviews throughout Persson's career. Among other conditions, the interviews were made with the agreement that they would not be released in full until Persson stepped down. No one realized then it would be that many years...

Last week SVT released the material in four hour-long episodes, plus at least as much material only online, plus that the entire unedited material will be available for scholarly analysis. Keep any thoughts you want about the social democrats and Göran Persson, but the amount of interesting thoughts (on politics, primarily), not to mention the amount of insane blunders anyone would let out in front of the camera in such long time is absolutely amazing.

It makes me a bit nostalgic and proud to be a swede when I see a project like this made. The programs had some 1.5 million viewers, and I feel like blurting out "And me!", and it was important enough to watch it online from Estonia! Debate afterward has been thin at best though, reminds me of the media-judgments in the sulphur-reaking monologue of Carl-Johan Vallgren. Documentaries and debate- and cultur-pages may be hard to digest, but I still instinctively resist the lazy approach some people have that "what would the world care about this?". I think that at least taking some part in what's going on in the world around you is essential to expanding your understanding and intelligence. If a reasonably mature arena for public debate is not maintained a society may face total political bankruptcy and citizen participation goes extinct. If nothing else, as a necessary basis to enable action it is necessary, or as Doktor Kosmos so wisely put it "Actually what you say matters, not only what you do".

One recent topic of public debate here in Estonia has been that the Estonian Lutheran Church decided to do a Church of Nigeria (quote: ”our commitment to the total rejection of the evil of homosexuality which is a perversion of human dignity and encourages the National Assembly to ratify the Bill prohibiting the legality of homosexuality”) and announced some kind of objection to that Church of Sweden has decided to perform same-sex unions. I wish I could read that article but anyhow try follow the debate closely, the schism is a fascinating one.

What seems to be the case is that Church of Estonia fail to, or refuse to see the decisions Church of Sweden had to make. Facing an increasingly secular society where religious fundamentalists gather in more charismatic movements, the "state church" saw their clientele fleeing, especially if they would take the conservative path in issues like that of sexuality. Especially the former arch-bishop K.G. Hammar was one very strange but successful bird in reforming the swedish church, with statements such that he considers the biblical texts on virgin birth "poetic" and when supporting the Ecce Homo exhibition.

Now the government were releasing their groundwork on reforming marriage law, and Church of Sweden did essentially all they could, stated not only that they are willing to accept same-sex marriage, but that they support equal rights for all, especially for such a persecuted group as homosexuals. Essentially they would have lost their right to register any civil unions otherwise. Still, they guarded their integrity and think the tradition-laden word "marriage" should be kept out of civil unions law altogether. Fair enough, in my opinion. Let them those who want remain bigots, and all others marry!

PS. Work here in Estonia has granted me some fascinating insight into the true story and people behind Skype. So go check out Bluemoon and compare their people list with that of Skype (the page I meant to find was here), as well as the great coverage back in the day by CNN

Update 2008-01-11: The international version "A Prime Minister - Ten Years Behind the Scenes" was released a while back, so now anyone inclined and fluent enough in English can get an insight into our dear Swedish social democracy lunacy. If you don't want the web fluff you can simply open http://svt.se/content/1/c8/01/01/97/71/op_int.asx in your favourite media player, or for you advanced geeks (i.e. Me) dump the stream from mms://qstream-wm.qbrick.com/00928/sthlm/dokumentar/dokumentarfilm/op_int.wmv

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The highs and the lows

Haven't blogged in a while. There have been a numer of highs and lows worth mentioning lately.

The weather has been really nice the last two weeks. My first barbeque of the year was this weekend, followed by a day of surfing and tanning at the beach. Last week I and a friend had a great evening out dining with LaserDavid and his friend who were visiting SFO for a convention.

My car suddenly stopped running while driving on the highway two weeks ago. Naturally this was shortly after my ceiling fell in. It's also stalling sometimes when stopping at a red light. Very annoying. I have to turn the key three or four times before it starts up again. I left it at my local mechanic and of course they couldn't reproduce the problem. So I got it back, and of course it soon started to act up on me again. Now it's back in the shop for a second attempt at identifying the fault. I've investigated the problem and done a lot of searching on the net for that kind of problem with Volvos of that model and year. It could be pretty much anything from a rare short circuit ($) to a broken ignition control computer ($$$) to a worn out fuel pump ($$). Either the mechanic can repro it and replace the part, or I have to live with the issue until the car starts bailing on me with such a high frequency that's it’s impossible to miss it. *Sigh* My car is a wonderful piece of machinery otherwise.

This coming weeking I'm going skiing, hoping that my bad luck qouta takes some time to replenish itself. I'm the one with least experience with winter sports in my social group, so it's likely going to be a hard weekend of learning.
I am learning to surf right now and so far that has only cost me a new pair of glasses. Despite having security straps for them, a wave hit me so hard that they disappeared with straps and all. Luckily I didn't have to drive all the way home without them, and I needed new ones anyway.

Some weeks ago, me and a bunch of colleges, friends and friends of friends rented a limo and took an 8 hour ride around the wine country in Napa Valley: Wine tasting, picnicking in the sun and listening to trivia about wine. You get pretty dizzy after such a trip but it's certainly worth it, not having to drive around the valley yourself with a bored sober driver, or no sober drivers at all. In California, you can drive if you have a blood-alcohol level of less then 0.08 percent (0.8 parts per thousand, "promille"). That's crazy in the mind of a Swede (we have 0.0). It's my ambition to try not to take advantage of such freedom.

Otherwise I have pretty much worked 60 hours a week the last few weeks. I guess it’s a matter of “You work hard, you party hard”. Speaking of work and party, I got my hands on the movie “Riot On” last weekend. It’s a crazy movie about a Finnish tech company that got a lot of VC in 2000 and crashed as IT went down two years later. It has been around for a while but I noticed that I could get the DVD from Amazon just recently. Anyway these guys blow a lot of money on building a company image, recruiting relatives and partying like crazy. If you have ever worked at a startup, been though a "high-tide" with crazy inflated expectations in industry, or worked at an IT company you should see this. It takes a bunch of Finnish guys to make a movie about that time. Like they weren't good at partying anyways. I can just hope the age of wonders is not over yet.

Robert


The Aparment Complex "Billy"

The week before last was a bit messy. On Wednesday I woke up from a loud crash, and realized that about 20 square foot (2 square meters) of my ceiling had just collapsed. What the f*ck?



Housing in my area is expensive. As I might have mentioned, houses cost about the same as they do at home, but the prices are in dollars instead of SEK.
California, not to mention Palo Alto, is insane. My one room apartment is $1100 a month to rent. But it's not the houses themselves that cost money. Construction materials are more expensive, but often of lower quality and construction labor is cheap.



The standards are somewhat set by climate. It's always above freezing and doesn't rain for about 6 months out of the year. Historically the price of energy has been very low. So instead of building well-insulated houses people have been cranking up their heaters. The peak of energy consumption however, is reached during the summer when all the air conditioners pump heat out of the buildings. Energy is becoming expensive though, and building codes are changing to accommodate, but the quality of most buildings compared, at least to Swedish standards, will have to be described as crappy. I was about to compare them to buying a whole house at IKEA, the same fragile particle board material that most of the stuff from IKEA is made of, and assemble it with discount tools from your local DIY construction warehouse. But then I might be discrediting IKEA too much. Much of the stuff they make is sufficent quality for many purposes.

Anyway. I got a weeks worth free rent and a new unit in the same building. I also took the opportunity of partying and sleeping over at friends during the few days I couldn't occupy the old apartment.

Robert

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Estonia vs. Sweden

Just to tease you all a little bit, and perhap to explain why this post has been not happening for so long... I give you, the points on which I plan to comment on Estonia vs. Sweden:

- Rich and poor

- Politics

- Nazis and communists

- Sexism

- Alcohol consumption

- Entertainment

- Housing

- Work market

- Insurances

- Celebrities

- Humor


So, feel free to post your prejudice in the comments already!

Lost in the pancake

I guess this should have been expected, getting my Master degree is after all what I had been working for for a long time. And then it showed up in the mailbox:



Don't get me wrong, the ring as well as my diploma I am so happy and proud about that to anyone else it would probably border to the silly, but they are also distinctive signs that my university days are over. It is a closed chapter and I will not go back to Chalmers, probably not to Gothenburg either. Friends are dissipating all over the world and here I am, constantly hearing a language I barely understand and I am getting more comfortable with English than my good old Swedish and yeah... it does make one feel a bit... lost in the pancake.

A couple of weeks ago Laserdavid came here for a weekend visit and I don't think he would disagree in that it was a pretty amazing weekend. So to all of you old homies, wherever you are, I will remember and somewhat miss those old days, but now is also time to embrace something new. Regrettably it seems impossible to embrace both old and new at the same time.

Gothenburg and the old friends feels particularly far away when I heard Rydis is gone somewhere and people are missing him. Heck, I do too and hope he is well. But do the Basvrak even exist any longer? Should they? Do I need to care? Nevermind, that's just my obligation-driven thinking speaking.

Anyway, things are fine here, everything is busy as ever and even if the above chunk of sentimentality seemed sad, I'm still extremely happy I moved here. From here on, up, up and beyond!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Emigrants

This is a short post about Swedish emigration and the Swedish Author, Vilhelm Moberg, who inspired the name of this blog.
In the fifties and early sixties he wrote four novels describing the lives and adventures of a Swedish family emigrating from Sweden to the US in the mid 19 th century.

The Emigrants (1951), ”Utvandrarna”
Unto a Good Land (1954), ”Invandrarna” (litt. The Immigrants)

The Settlers (1961), ”Nybyggarna”
The Last Letter Home (1961), ”Sista brevet till Sverige” (litt. The Last Letter To Sweden)

Those were harsh days in Sweden, then a poor country. Starvation, hopes for a better future and a sense of adventure drove the Swedes across the Atlantic.

Here is a map of the distribution of Swedish-Americans in the US.

I have distant relatives somewhere here in the US, and there are a number of fellow students, and alumni, from my university living in the area. And then there is of course the Young Scandinavians Club :) which has been serving me as an extended family lately.

I feel like I could settle pretty much anywhere though, as long as there is work and fun people.
The world is my friggin' Oyster!

Some notable Swedish-Americans (wikipedia): Greta Garbo, Uma Thurman, Buzz Aldrin, Harry Nyquist, John Ericsson, Charles Lindbergh

Robert


Monday, February 05, 2007

Time for sports

Work is running quite smoothly now days. Been having an office all to myself for more then one month now as buildings are being changed and people move around. Next week, unfortunately I'll end up in a cubicle instead as the old building is running out of space, and the new one doesn't really have any offices. A more active and creative environment or a step towards the impression you get from the movie Office Space? I will soon find out.
This weekend has been a good relaxing one. Hanging out with friends, watching the Super bowl on Sunday and going surfing on Saturday.

Super bowl

Not everyone who reads this blog may even know what The Super bowl is. In Sweden we generally never hear anything about it. It's the final showdown in the National Football League (NFL). This American football thing is a craze. 100 000 million dollars in wages during the game (0,7 billion SEK). The final game of the NFL season, between The Chicago Bears and The Indianapolis Colts, was played today, in pouring rain. Prince had been dusted of to make an appearance in mid game break. It's not a bad pastime, watching football and drinking beer. Hockey makes more sense to me though. Me and the Bergman’s went to HP Pavilion in San Jose and watched the Sharks play at one time. It's pretty neat to be at this huge stadium and just chill out and sit back as home team scores and the crowd goes wild. Next year maybe I’ll go to see the local football team, The San Francisco Giants play. I’ve been at a football game in the college league when the two big universities in the area, Stanford and UC Berkeley played.

Surfing

So me and a friend of mine went surfing on Saturday at the beach in Pacifica. The weather was nice. Air temperature around 70 degrees (21 C). Not bad for February ;) And the conditions were pretty rookie-friendly with waves of around 4-5 feet (~ 1,25 m).
The water is cold though, even in the summer. Right now temperatures are in the low 50's (~12 C). For the comfort and protection of nuts and other important body functions, a wetsuit is therefore required. And after spending a couple of hours in the water, my toes were pretty numb. I never got more then knee-standing on the board on any of the waves, but it was a great feeling. Paddling out on the board, turning as a new wave approaches, hearing it break behind you and holding on as it grabs you and sweeps you towards the shore. Good to have a Volvo Wagon to throw your board in and go out there. It’s fun and great exercise. To bad we don’t have that good waves in Sweden.

Robert

Squaw Valley

I was just looking through my blog material. This is a story about when I tried downhill skiing for the first time. Should have posted it earlier with some pictures but they ended up on some other guy's camera and haven't made their way to me yet. Oh well..

This December, I experienced snow and cold for the first time in quite a while. Me, my German colleague Jan and the guys from the house went to the Sierra Nevada mountains, to Lake Tahoe. The YSC owns a cabin there that members can rent fairly cheap. Early December is early in the season, and we were the only ones there that weekend.
It turned out that the snow conditions were really poor on the day we arrived. Most of the ground below the mountains was barren. We went to a nearby town to rent skis and were advised to wait for a front that was coming in later that day, hopefully bringing more snow to the slopes.
A fifteen minutes drive from the cabin brings you to Sqaw Valley, where the winter Olympics were held in 1960. We went there to check out the conditions, just to make sure.
We inquired skiers about the state of the slopes and decided to wait until the next day before renting equipment. Instead we spent the day at the cabin drinking beer and playing poker and trivial pursuit.
In the evening we crossed the border to Nevada, were the gambling laws are more liberal than California. Surely enough, right after the border, near Lake Tahoe, there are a few casinos. Not very fancy, but still interesting. So we lost some money, and got a bite to eat.

Soon it had started to snow, and it snowed all night. In the morning there was maybe 15 cms outside of the cabin and we got out equipment and went to Squaw Valley.

Having never skied downhill in my life, and only done cross-country skiing some 13 years ago, at Squaw Valley, I started out in the beginner slopes where there are instructors to help you out. They, and the other participants, were puzzled by the fact that there are Swedes that can't actually ski. Luckily, it went quite well for me compared to some of the others. There was this Chinese girl that despite many attempts failed to get very far up the hill, or on level ground either, before plummeting to the ground.

I was not so bad myself though. During the beginners introduction I managed to ski backwards into a tree (the only tree around). And also to cut the power to the lift by accidentally grabbing hold of the cord, effectively unplugging it.
Never the less, after lunch that day, I decided that it was time to try the blue slope (the only other slope open at the time). The hills were low on snow, and some parts were icy. We had to sign when renting the gear that we understood that skiing in low snow conditions was risky and
that we shouldn't sue the renters if we hurt ourselves.
Anyway, I pushed myself out on the slope.. and down I went. It took a while to get all the way down, and I fell maybe two dozen times. But during the last part I had improved a lot. well at least I had learned how to turn, break, and (most of the time at least) to stop and to get up quickly. It was fun. I will certainly go skiing again when I get the chance.
Any takers (preferably rookies like me) who wants to go to Chamonix for a week and get some practice? Wouldn't that be awesome.

Robert

Friday, January 26, 2007

Keep your head and sponges outside of the microwave at all times

Apparently, recent reports that microwaving a sponge is a very efficent way of disinfecting it, has caused some people to microwave sponges - without wetting them first. Maybe they should have a pop quiz in the manual so that people could tell if they are qualified to operate the microwave or not before trying it :)

Robert

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Live 105

Friends, strangers, patronns of ze blogging. I've been coding python all day and I think I'm starting to like it. It's quite neat actually. But now on to something completely different..

I usually listen to the KITS Live 105 morning broadcasts when driving to work because they are so wonderfully sarcastic and funny. I love it when they are reading the traffic report and have a laughing sound in the background as the reporter lists accidents and clogged roads you should avoid that morning.
I found some scripts for it on their website too, so all of you living outside of the Bay Area can have a look at all the high quality content :)

Update: Looks like you can stream it of the web if you sign up or whatever

Robert

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Getting used to it the other way around

I continue my rant on the Swedish mindset which has become so much more apparent to me lately. I found this list quite amusing:

You know you've been in Sweden too long when

Robert

You get used to it

Hey y'all.

I'm getting used to life in the U.S. The novelties that in the beginning constantly reminds you that you are not livning in Sweden any more are sinking in. What was not logical has become logical, from the new perspective of things. And what yet still is not logical has been accepted as the way things are. Then life sort of converges to an every day life iteration. But that is an iteration that is always breakable as long as you remeber to remember that it is.

About getting used to things. A couple of swedish friends of mine have lately been complaining a lot about how how tough and boring life is (It's not you Karl-Oscar :) , though your post made me think about it). A little bit of this is part of the swedish attitude. It's part of social practice to complain a little about the state of things. This makes me want to introduce to the reader a not very well known swedish singer, and a song that artfully embraces this attitude, and brings it to the point of excess:

Kjell Höglund - Man vänjer sig
(Unfortunately only in Swedish)

This song usually makes me snap out of it, when I've momentarily stuck in the pattern of thinking that life is in an unrepairable rut.

Robert

Thursday, January 18, 2007

All quiet on the eastern front

As work is super busy right now and my hands are kind of aching from typing some four pages of technical text and doing several urgently needed illustrations for my somewhat confused (and stressed!) coworkers... I don't particularly feel to write much in my pitifully neglected blog. Seriously, Robert, your house was demolished and you got a 740?! Cool...

So, for a funny story I heard of:

Jan 15, 2007
TALLINN - Caretakers of a medieval citadel in Rakvere, northeast Estonia, were left embarrassed after the Swedish flag was hoisted above the castle tower instead of Estonia’s national strip on Jan. 12.
The mistake was noticed by outside observers, who quickly called the operators of the Rakvere castle museum to alert them of the apparent invasion.
The error came about due to an apparent similarity between the Swedish flag and the flag of Rakvere city, which has a similar design.
To mark the anniversary of Rakvere’s liberation in the 1918-1920 War of Independence, the city’s flag was to be hoisted above the castle.
The error was corrected in a matter of hours.



It kind of feels like I am getting into a bit of a routine here in Estonia now. A new hamster wheel? Well, I don't mind particularly, and all the hard work is keeping me busy and reasonably happy. My hopes are it will pay off nicely in a while of course. What could I write of interest? Of course I still would want to write that thing about my impressions of Estonia, and work is still super exciting and we've made much progress toward actually managing customers... but that's about it.

Except we need to find a new apartment by early summer at latest. We're probably buying. How many adult points did a shared mortgage score now again?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Extreme weather

It's chilly in the Bay Area. Me and some of my colleagues shared a laugh this week about the government reactions to the unusual weather. We sure hope all the Californians will get through this frosty siege.

Let's quote the Chronicle:

"An overnight low of 31 degrees was forecast for the city. The frigid weather is expected to continue through the weekend. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency because of the extreme cold"

The San Francisco Chronicle
Saturday, January 13, 2007

31 degrees F is about -0.5 degrees C. The California Health & Human Services Agency issued this Preparation Guide during the week.

Some quotes:

"Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions."

"Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs."

Oh well. Guess I’ll be chilling out as well this weekend.

Robert


Thursday, January 11, 2007

To be continued

What happened that Christmas was that everyone from the Bergmansion went home to Sweden again, except for Walker who is also staying in the US for some more months.

Walker, and our main character Robert, moved to their own respective apartments during the second week of December. Robert then caught a flight to spend some time with his relatives and friends in Sweden.

The Bergmansion was demolished, leaving a $1,1M patch of dirt and gravel, and many fond memories of all the fun it was living there that summer.


Robert came back to Sillicon Valley and realized that it was time to get a car, and that still the American dream car was not in his budget. So he got the next best thing...

..a Volvo 740 wagon.

He also got a good start with his thesis work. The deparment and managers are eagerly waiting for the tools his ideas will spawm. Unfortunately (or maybe not), to protect his employer, he is unable to tell you much of the details.

And so the adventures continue, as the world turns and brings us into the new year..


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

If Swedish breakfast was holy, I could call myself a pilgrim

Having been awake for 24 hours already, keeping me alert from Amsterdam by chatting with my neighbor on the plane about the US, the state of the Swedish automation industry, and how it was lake vacationing in Holland, I boarded a Malmoe Avivation flight from Gothenburg-Landvetter to Stockholm-Bromma around 7 pm.

The sore throat and itchy nose-thing that broke out sometime after takeoff from San Francisco airport kept me tried but awake, and while descending to Bromma I thought I saw Stockholm made out of gingerbread houses, with sleighs and reindeers moving around. I closed my eyes and saw colleagues and friends dressed up as Santa, or made out of gingerbread. Closing my eyes was like going into some kind of semi-sleep state where you are strangely aware and may control some but not all of the content and flow of your thoughts, thought that cause all kinds of stupid shit to visualize inside your head.

About an hour later, after grabbing a cab at the airport I arrived at the Hotel Anglais, instantly passing out on the bed. 4 am I woke up, after 5 hours of sleep. Not the least bit tired. There goe my sleep-awake-rhythm, I thought to myself.

I made travel arrangements for that day and got ready to eat breakfast at 6:30 am.

The breakfast, the first Swedish breakfast in a very long time, was maybe the closest to a religious experience I have ever come. Eggs and "Kalles kaviar", really good dark bread, incredibly nice (meaning cute) serving staff, "filmjölk" and tasty cereal. Dim lights, still dark outside, lit candles. The feeling of not having to hurry anywhere. Fresh orange juice and real strong Swedish-roasted coffee. The rich taste of the cucumber and tomatoes..
I was close to shedding a tear when the realization of all this beauty hit me.

Business people, in suites and the like, were sitting around me in the sparsely occupied dining hall, discussing something or reading their newspapers. The scene was calm, tidy, proper, beautiful.. divine.

I choose not to pick up one of the newspapers, but to just sit there and watch the scene while eating my breakfast, studying the other participants. Maybe they were going to meetings, conferences, fairs. Maybe the fates of their companies were to be decided in a few hours. Who knows? It's silent. Every once in a while a car passed outside of the large windows facing the street.
Later in my room, I turn on the TV with the morning news while preparing to leave for the US embassy. The broadcast too seemed calm, as if a spell was cast to make everything that morning slow and relaxed. There was a news break about a big section of highway near Gothenburg collapsing because of heavy rainfall. With a yawn I turned it off and headed out to meet the day.

Robert