Saturday, October 31, 2009

Alla Helgons Dag

There's not a whole lot to say about Halloween in Sweden, it's almost non-existent. I for one am glad that Sweden doesn't buy into the halloween hype, I really don't miss it. In the U.S. halloween is now the second most celebrated holiday after Christmas, but here I haven't seen one house decorated with skeletons, witches or jack o lanterns. I did get invited to one loosely termed halloween party and I'm not even sure if costumes are involved. But just in case, I do have a costume idea that I think the Swedes would find particularly scary. I'll just go wearing my Team Canada hockey jersey!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


So let's say that you kind of like hockey and you would play except either you just can't skate, or you don't like all the body checking and rough physical stuff. Or maybe you just don't like the cold, or how the helmet messes up your pretty hair. Well if this is the case for you, you might want to give innebandy a try. Innebandy is basically the same thing as floor hockey that you played in elementary school gym class, or street hockey out in front of your house. Except instead of using a real hockey stick and one of those hard plastic orange balls, these hard-nosed athletes showcase their skills with a wiffle ball and basically the wiffle version of a hockey stick...plastic with holes in the blade. This way, if someone does get struck with the ball or a wayward stick, it doesn't hurt too much. A relatively pain free experience being one of the reasons in choosing innebandy over hockey. Now, within the confines of 6th grade gym class, or the odd Friday night with your buddies at the local sporthall, this is actually a pretty fun game to play. However, here this game is taken a couple steps further and there are actually professional leagues. Almost any town will likely have a team with sponsors, a booster club, and ambitions of qualifying up to Swedens All-Svenska innebandy league. Ranks right up there with pro frisbee golf or the rock-paper-scissors world championships. Check out the newspaper and you can read up on your local team right next to the bowling and ping pong results. Once a year are the innebandy world championships and Sweden has traditionally had a lot of success at this event. They consistently finish in the top 3, which is quite impressive even if there are only about 8 countries in the world that are aware of the sport. If you are in Sweden and get invited to play a pickup game it can be a good time, just a couple of points to remember. Do NOT contact another player or their stick with your stick or any body part. And make sure to style your hair with plenty of gel so it will hold in place for the duration of the game. This seems to be important.

Friday, October 23, 2009

October Fart of the Month

The introductory Fart of the Month is the farthinder. Of course the role of the farthinder is to hinder or reduce fart, which most would consider to be a good thing. Hindering fart is of increased importance in high traffic areas, particularly in places where there are greater numbers of children and elderly present. Excessive fart in these areas can definitly pose a risk to public safety, so that is where most farthinders are located. So when you see one of these signs, please do your part for the greater good and keep your fart to a minimum.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Farting in Sweden

One of the best words in the Swedish language has to be "fart". It doesn't mean the the same thing as it does in actually means speed. (For you Swedish readers out there, in english fart means fis.) But, considering that fart means speed, it makes for some great compound words, road signs etc. So starting tomorrow we are introducing the "Fart of the Month". Approximately once a month we'll all get together and laugh about a fart word. Maybe it's a little juvenile but, så är det. So tune in tomorrow for Octobers FOM.

Monday, October 19, 2009

American Dressing

One of the most popular hamburger condiments here in Sweden is this so-called "American Dressing", and I'm not sure where it comes from but I know I've never seen it in America. And it's terrible. I guess the closest thing you could compare it to would be that "special sauce" you find on a Big Mac, but even worse. The Swedes love the stuff and I think they are embarrassed by that. Maybe that's why it's called American dressing. That way they can enjoy it on their burgers but they don't have to take credit for inventing it, they can just blame it on the Americans. So when you are ordering a burger at a Swedish burger joint (which I would discourage you from doing in the first place) I would strongly recommend asking for no sauce.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Swedens Baseball Legends

With the Major League Baseball playoffs under way on the other side of the Atlantic, I thought I'd do my part to increase the popularity of the sport here in Sweden. I think the locals should have a little more pride, and the world a little more respect for Swedens rich baseball heritage. Granted, it has been the better part of a century since a Swede donned a big league uniform, but that doesn't make their impact on the game any less impressive. So forget Salming, Borg, Sörenstam and Zlatan, here are four real pioneers of Swedish sport. Here are the 4 Swedish born players to appear in the Majors.....

Charlie Bold, born in Karlskrona. Charlie was in the lineup for two games with the St. Louis Browns in 1914. He had one at-bat and struck out. He also had one error.
Axel Lindström, born in Gustavsberg. This guy had a .500 career batting average! He played one game for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1916 where he had two at-bats and one hit.
Charlie Hallström, born in Jönköping. Nicknamed "The Swedish Wonder", Charlie played one game for the Providence Grays in 1885. Charlie pitched a complete game in his one big league appearance where he allowed 18 hits and 11 earned runs. He was 0 for 4 at the plate with 2 stikeouts.
Eric Ericksson, born in Göteborg. Eric has to be the king of Swedish baseball. He played parts of 8 seasons with the New York Giants, Detroit Tigers and Washington Senators between 1914 and 1922. His best year being 1920 when he won 12 games as a pitcher and boasted a .277 batting average for Washington.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

TV Tax

Just got the bill in the mail for my TV tax! I love when that comes. Paying taxes on something I get absolutely nothing in return for is one of my favorite things about living in a socialist society. And what could possibly deliver less than government run television? It comes every 3 months and adds up to a little over 2000 crowns a year, or about $300. If you own a TV here, or a radio for that matter, you'll be getting this bill from Radiotjänst. This isn't a tax that you pay upon the purchase of a TV, or tax tacked on to your cable bill. This is $300 a year just for the right to have a TV physically present in you home. And if you don't pay you bill, or if you truthfully or otherwise tell them you don't own a TV, you can expect a government agent to come knocking on your door just to make sure you aren't trying to stick it to the man.

And what do you get for your forced contribution to channels 1 and 2? Well I rarely tune in but I'm pretty sure you're looking at the test picture until noon, hours of government debates, some news, probably some soccer. Oh yeah, and Melodifestivalen in January, can't forget that annual "song" competition! I'm not really sure but that's the's a lot of money for something I don't use. I could double my annual fika budget with that money! Think of it this way, if you live in North America and don't have cable TV, you probably get four or five channels like NBC, ABC, FOX, CBC, etc. And then you get PBS. Public TV. What if you got billed $300 a year for PBS, wouldn't that be sweet? Well that's exactly what's going on here. You'll hear the argument here that because we pay that money they don't have commercials. Congratulations but is it supposed to make me happy that I get to support crappy, commercial-free television? If they did have ads, they would likely be the highlight of their programming schedule. So here's an idea SVT....put some decent shows on, sell advertisements, and support yourself like big boys and girls.

There has recently been rumours of eliminating this tax but, in the meantime, a couple of things to keep in mind. If you are planning on buying a TV, buy it used instead of in a retail store. This way there is less of a chance that the TV police find out that you are a TV owner and start billing you. Secondly, if you hear an unexpected knock at the door some evening, remember to quickly hide your TV in the closet before answering. I may write more about this later, but for now I have to run. There's a show coming on about lonely farmers looking for love.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Temperature In The Shade

When talking about the temperature, the Swedes often feel the need to add "in the shade" after the stated temperature. However, this phenomenon typically occurs only when the temperature is very warm....roughly 30 degrees celsius being the apparent threshold. For temperatures below 30 degrees celsius, simply stating the actual temperature (which happens to be in the shade anyway) is considered sufficient. Here's an example. "Yeah, last week I was down in Spain. While it was cold and rainy here in Sweden, down there it was 35 the shade!" Apparently, since temperatures so high are rarely experienced in Sweden, this suffix somehow becomes necessary. A little added shock value perhaps. As if the other person is supposed to think, "Wow! If it's that hot in the shade it must be really hot if you were standing in the middle of your driveway with the sun beating down on your black shirt!"

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Kanelbullens Dag

Today is a special day in Sweden, it's cinnamon bun day. An entire day dedicated to the celebration of cinnamon buns. I guess it would be like having donut day in the US. Might sound a little strange but why not celebrate the finer things in life? So go eat a CB today.


Thought we'd clear the air regarding a few brilliant questions we frequently get regarding Sweden from from people back home over the pond. Not that we spend a lot of time learning about Sweden in our North American schools, but whether your teacher would admit it or not, there is such a thig as a dumb question. But we love them so keep them coming.
Q. What language do they speak in Sweden?
A. Uuhh, that would be Swedish.
Q. Do you ski a lot in the Alps there?
A. Not when I'm in Sweden.
Q. Do you have one of those "Swedish bank accounts?"
A. I assume you're referring to a Swiss bank account which I do not have, but yes, I do have a Swedish bank account. As to whether or not the dozens of dollars I have in it are traceable, I can't say.
Q. Do they have McDonald's there?
A. Unfortunately, yes.
Q. Is everyone in Sweden blonde?
A. Yes, every single person.
Q. Do you know the Lindströms?
A. Yes, but probably not the ones you're referring to.
Q. Do you shop at IKEA a lot?
A. Every chance I get.

And finally.... "How far is it to Stockholm from where you live?", I was asked. "About 3 hours by car", I said. "Really?", they replied, "Is Sweden that big?" Yes.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Welcome to our blog. We're a couple North American guys who have spent a few years living in Sweden and feel it's time to share our observational wisdom with the world. What is life like in Sweden? From stuff that Swedish people like, to morsels of crucial information that you need to be aware of if you're planning on spending time here, we'll tell you what you need to know. Afterall, there is a lot more to Sweden than meatballs and blondes. And, although we are very fond of both of these and don't wish to downplay their importance, there is actually a lot more to this fine country. Like any place, Sweden has its sometimes amusing, sometimes annoying idiosyncracies, and we will explore them all. From fika to farthinders. Enjoy.