The War on Christmas: the 24th versus 25th

In the United States, extreme right wing pundits and “pastors” freak out every year over the war on Christmas. Say, “happy holidays” to a stranger? That’s ignoring Christmas at the cost of being politically correct! Write “Seasons Greetings” on your annual holiday card? That’s hating on Christianity!

Say “Happy Hanukah” to your Jewish friend? That’s being a jew-lover to a people who killed Jesus! (But wasn’t Jesus a Jew? Oh, I guess)


*Crap, I meant Christmas season!


After you have a great big laugh over the moronity of this situation (and yes, sadly many Christians do not know Jesus was Jewish), I have a bigger issue on the war on Christmas.

What day should we celebrate Christmas?

The Swedes as we know and love, celebrate Christmas on the 24th and spend the 25th going to church (midnight mass, maybe) and resting.

The Russian Ortodox celebrate Christmas on Epiphany, January 7th.

Americans celebrate on December 25th.

To me, this is a real problem. Because I want to open my presents, eat sill, and drink glögg. And no one really knows what date we should use!

Call Santa! No, Jultomte!

No… call Rudolph!

Damnit, we cannot even figure out who’s spearheading this holy day.

This year, I spent the holidays (note my political savvy correctness), in confusion. The serious arguments in the household revolved around:

  • What day do we put the Christmas tree up?
  • When can we put up Christmas decorations (like the julstjärnor)?
  • What day do we celebrate Christmas?
  • What do we eat?
  • When is the tree taken down?

Oh dear, we don’t even know what to eat! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! {That is how I felt for two weeks}

After debating for weeks, we finally came to some reasonable conclusions:

  • What day do we put the Christmas tree up? December 11th
  • When can we put up Christmas decorations (like julstjärnor)? December 8th
  • What day do we celebrate Christmas? December 24th
  • What do we eat? Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, champagne, glögg, lussebullar, and pepparkakor
  • When is the tree taken down? When *I* say so! :)

Even though I have been with the Swede for four years now, this is certainly not the first time we had this discussion. It just happened that this year we celebrated Christmas with my family: not Christian) and not in Sweden.

But it all worked out in the end. I have a massive noble fir tree that is 2.2 meters tall. I have my Christmas ornaments my family has owned since the 80s. I have julstjanor jimmied-up with light bulbs. I have an IKEA adventsljusstake that I found in the secondhand store free bin because a light was missing (that was a bitch to replace!). I have tomte, sheep, and julbock.

And I have my dad, the Swede, and the bunny.

So matter what day you celebrated Christmas, here’s to wishing all of you God Forsättning and Gott Nytt År! Let 2013 kick butt for everyone!


{photo by unknown}

California versus Sweden

As many of you know, I’m from California. Well, not really from California but spent a good part of my life and college years there. It still counts.

And every time I visit California, I notice all these differences between there and Sweden. Duh, I know they are two different regions. There isn’t much to compare when you have the North Pole versus silicon babes and chips.

But, did you know that Sweden is roughly the same geographic size as California? And did you know that Stockholm has a similar sized population as San Francisco?

Yea, I bet you didn’t know that!

the stockholm archipelago
view from the hot air balloon over western stockholm

wine country – napa county
les ombres

I thought then how fun would it be to make a comparison list of California versus Sweden. Crime, teenage pregnancy, unemployment rate, geography, the number of Swedes hiding in Noe Valley, etc.

Perhaps that will help all you’all people sitting on the fence whether to move to Sweden from California or vice versa.

Fun facts and statistics:

Official Name Konungariket SverigeState of California
Land Area (km^2)449,964423,970
GDP* (in billions $)5381,900
Unemployment Rate %8.810.2
Teenage Pregnancy (per 1000)732
Teen Abortion (per 1000)20.926
Official AnimalElkCalifornia Grizzly Bear
Official BirdBlackbirdCalifornia Quail
Number of Lakes100,0003,000
Number of Islands24,000600
State ColorsBlue and yellowBlue and gold


And just a caveat, moving to San Francisco is like moving to Göteborg, it’s rainy, foggy, and rainy most of the year with a chance of crazy people. On the upside, SF is warmer, sunnier and has less hipsters.

If you think about more facts and bits to compare, write in a comment and I will add them to the table.

What I’ll miss about California

My sejour here in California is starting to wind down and I began to realize there are a lot of things I will miss about CA.
In no particular order:

  • The Berkeley Bowl- the best produce, cheese grocery store around
  • My SUV
  • Customer service
  • Cable TV and VOD
  • Clubbing until 4 am
  • Cheap alcohol and an myriad selection of it
  • Clubbing until 5am
  • Seeing the city skyline every time I cross the Bay Bridge
  • Going to Napa valley when I feel like it
  • Driving 300 miles and still being stuck in CA
  • Really cheap gas
  • Non toll highways
  • People smiling and chatting wherever you go
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • 24 hour stores
  • My SUV
  • The Kitchen Aid Mixer
  • Clubbing until 6am and watching the sunrise
  • Cheap, tasty Mexican food
  • Visiting Lake Tahoe and going snowboarding
  • Hiking in Marin Country and watching the sunrise
  • Yes, my SUV…having no wheels in Sweden may just kill me
  • Late night anything

iAsshats- Why Apple is the next consumer dictator

With the flurry of accusations going back and forth between iBrick users and Apple, I figured it is time I put my two cents in. First off, I did not buy an iPhone because I knew Apple was a company of control freaks who would enforce every term like the old Chinese dictatorships. Second, I knew that company would have a serious price cut right after its first go on the market. And yet, I completely sympathize with the iPhone consumer for a variety of reasons.

1. Bricking a product is a pretty extreme solution to a “violation” of a T&C (terms and conditions agreement). If for example, Apple is sued and they lose, they face either replacing every bricked phone with a new one (a huge financial lose) or writing a lot more code to fix these phones (if that is even feasible). Bricking is an end all solution.

2. People are saying the iPhone users need to stop whining and suck it up. J. Noah Funderburg, an assistant dean at the University of Alabama School of Law in Tuscaloosa, said: “We have a free marketplace,” he said. “Buy a product, including using it on the terms accompanying the purchase, or don’t buy it. And learn to live with not always getting everything you want.”
It’s not about getting “everything” you want, it is about getting to own your product. Apple is imposing as many rules as it can to create a consumer base of slaves. These users have no rights, they just pay for the phone and every cost associated. If I spend, $400, $500, or $600 on a phone, I would like to use it in a manner I see fit. That does not mean throwing it off a building, installing malicious programs, or installing programs that changes the database structure, it means getting to personalize MY phone.

3. Apple’s stubbornness to control every aspect of the iphone will eventually backfire. Consumers will realize they wasted $600 on a phone and either: 1) they buy a new phone; 2) tell Apple and AT&T to go fuck themselves and buy from another company.
I own a T-mobile Blackberry. T-mobile is a sensible company because they know many of it’s customers travel abroad and they allow customers to unlock phones. I have never had a problem unlocking my phone and the customer service reps are very helpful.
Additionally, I installed the Zagat Restaurant guide on my phone. I had some problems so I called T-mobile for help. Sure enough, even though they didn’t write the program, the CS rep went online to see what could be the issue (we eventually resolved it). No problems, no questions.

4. Apple is fighting a losing battle. Every new technology is tested to its breaking point and then pushed forward to make the next generation. Because Apple is trying to control every aspect of the iphone and the phone service agreement, everyone who does anything to the phone is considered a hacker. Seriously, most customers just want to add some bells and whistles and most “hackers” want to see how strong the coding is and what can be done to make it better. It is a win-win for everyone. If Apple let hackers play with the phone, they would be creating softwares for the next generation (and that is R&D money Apple doesn’t have to spend) but if Apple wants to scare everyone, the iphone will truly become an iBrick: worthless, old, and outdated.

Apple always claimed to be on the cutting edge and open to new source codes. Isn’t that why Apple fought with Microsoft for years? The company did not want to be a dictator to its consumers. Apple began on the platform of open source and working to make things better. They wanted to be sleek, sexy, and ahead of its time. They were, until now.

This week, Apple set itself back twenty years and is behaving like a dogmatic dinosaur. In the Apple world, I will call them an iAsshole.

And we thought Microsoft was bad…