5 Odd Midsummer Traditions for the Uninitiated Foreigner

Midsummer {Midsommar}, was this past Friday. It is a national holiday hailed as the first day of summer and a reason to eat fish and get wasted.

It is also, for the uninitiated, a very crazy day. I didn’t want to spoil the fun for those of you who celebrated your first midsommar this past weekend, so I waited until today to share the list of crazy things Swedes do at the festivities.

When I celebrated my first midsummer in Sweden, I really had no idea what to expect. I had been warned though that the Swedes will drink a lot, eat a lot, and sing a lot. What I was not prepared for, was passing out after four shots of nubbe {aquavit} because the cowboy doctor (he was a Swedish doctor with a cowboy hat) claimed I need proper initiation.

And then, I passed out for thirty minutes, only to awake to people still singing and drinking!

Of course later on, we danced and danced, played games, and ate some more.

From that experience and those over the years, here is my list of five strange things Swedes do. And, believe me, you’ll enjoy them once you get over the shock!

1. Sing about frogs – That’s right, you dance around a phallic symbol and dance like frogs. If you have not performed this tradition, you have not had a proper midsommar.

2. Dance around a phallic object – So the cross made from leaves, branches, and flowers represent the penis and the two round hoops represent, well, balls. As in most pagan customs, the phallic symbol represents fertility and strength. Cheers to fertile froggies!

3. Taste every type of pickled herring ever made – Mustard herring, onion herring, garlic herring, sour cream herring, spiced herring, dill herring, mixed herring, and on the list goes!

4. Sing all the time – For that matter, midsummer seems to be the day that Swedes not only get outdoors, but they get out their vocal chords. You sing to toast, you sing to eat, you sing to drink, you sing to eat, you sing to toast, you sing to dance. You SING!!! If you have a terrible voice, this is probably the time to mindlessly mumble to yourself since chances are, you don’t know the words to the songs anyway.

5. Seven flowers – Actually I think this is rather sweet. Collect seven different flowers and place them under your pillow. It is said you will dream about your future spouse. All the single ladies find some flowers.

There are plenty of delicious strawberries for dessert and silly songs to be had, but the Swedish midsommar is by far a fun and happy holiday. If you want to have your own midsummer at home, it is easy too, check out my post on DIY midsummer.

Do you have a strange tradition during midsommar? We would love to hear about it!

Le Douze Points of Eurovision 2013 Fashion Fail

It’s over. The greatest hangover of the year that lasts a week.



A reprise to 2014. Thank god, I need 200 days to recouperate before Sweden’s Melodiefestivalen attacks my eyes and ears like the zombie virus of bad singing and fashion.

For now, let’s visit the worst of Eurovision fashion from last week. Please be ready to be offended.

Un Point – Israel – Poorly Fitted Mermaid Dress. Honestly, the fashion designer and seamstress(es) should be fired for this outfit. It was poorly shaped, poorly stitched, and lumpy. Just because Moran is a luscious sized woman, doesn’t mean your stitching has to suck.
Eurovision 2013 Costumes Fashion Israel Moran Mazor

Deux Points – Ukraine – It was plain, it was forgettable and it was nude. Nude colors are bad for the stage; they make you look naked!

Trois Points – Germany – Congratulations for adding 20 years to your age by wearing a disco infused bomb of sequins and stringy stuff.

Quatre Points – Belarus – Girl, you ain’t Shakira. And Belarus is not allowed to have sunshine. That would be totally anti-communistic. Want to have fun and dance on the beach? Go to Spain.
Eurovision Costumes Fashion Belarus

Cinq Points – Turkey – I always love it when a stripper goes to Hollywood and meets prince charming. Errr, I mean goes to
Eurovision and is wearing a Madonna bustier.
Eurovision Song Contest 2013 - Unser Song für Malmö

Six Points – Finland – Trash the dress session meets Courtney Love.
Eurovision Costumes Finland

Sept Points – – I don’t even know what country this is, but I don’t want to be visited by the Red-Reaper.
Eurovision Costumes 1

Huit Points – Moldova – She lit herself on fire. She lit herself on FIRE! Nevermind, that was just a plastic reflective dress for the digital projector to shine flames.
The Eurovision Song Contest 2013 - Day 1 Rehearsals, Live Semi Final 1 and Photocalls

Dix Points – Montenegro – Spacesuits. Really? Spacesuits?! No wonder they couldn’t even make it past the first semi-final, they forgot about the most important theory in science: the bad costume – shitty singing continuum. Meeting both these conditions causes one to fall into the abyss of Eurovision hell.
Eurovision 2013 Costumes Fashion Montenegro

And the douze points goes to…


Vampire meets Annie Lenox meets Cher. OMGWTF is going on?!
Eurovision Costumes Fashion Romania

Something Hot, Something Sweet, Something Salty, Something Black – Lakritsfestivalen 2013

This year’s Lakritsfestivalen is right around the corner. After stuffing myself sill last year, I wanted to pass the torch on to someone who loves licorice but hates to admit it. Let me introduce you to Maja, a veritable Swedish girl, who is a fantastic cook and licorice expert. She will be blogging about the festival before and after. Yea, I gave her the dirty work of eating candy and talking to strangers.

It’s this time of year again, Swedish licorice time! The licorice festival is around the corner and what’s a better way to celebrate that than to have a little licorice tasting session with a few friends?

The licorice festival committee was kind enough to mail a bunch of licorice to try. Our tasting panel consisted of: Ms. Licorice-lover, Mr. Licorice-hater, Mr. Only-sweet-licorice, Ms. I-eat-everything, Mr. salt-licorice-lover and Ms. I-don’t-want-to-admit- it-but-I-like-it.
Let the tasting begin!

After stuffing our face with häxstänger (witch poles), firetrucks, chocolate covered licorice, salt covered licorice, licorice covered licorice (for real!) and all that deliciousness, we found three favorites!

Pingvinstång salta hallon(Penguin pole salt Raspberry) from Tom’s– Everybody that grew up on Fifty Fifty licorice/raspberry lollipop knows what great friends licorice and raspberry make. And you won’t be disappointed. It is a great taste of licorice. Don’t be alarmed with the salt in the name; it is not that salty. Even Mr. Only-sweet-licorice liked it.

Firetrucks from Van Slooten- This is something for the tough guy or girl! I’m not that tough. This is extreme hot pepper licorice, (it even says so on the bag).

They are chewy with a hot liquid filling. It has a strong licorice taste and the strong pepper taste lingers in your mouth long enough for you to pick up piece number two! If you love the strong licorice taste, you will love these!!

Gammeldags lakritsmarmeladgodis  (old-fashioned licorice marmalade candy) from Ryfors konfektyr – This reminds me of grandma. You could really taste the old-fashion feel. It is a soft candy, which many like but not me.

Gammeldags is sweet because it is a marmalade candy, but you will be surprised how rich is the licorice flavor. And this is one of those candies that you either love it or hate it. We decided we loved it. And you know grandma always knows best!  


And don’t worry, if now after reading this have a sudden craving for licorice, make sure you go to the licorice festival this Saturday or Sunday April 21-22 at Anexet in Stockholm to try all the different licorice. I’m sure your cravings will be satisfied.

Google Gets Mad with Språkrådet – No ‘ogooglebar’ For You!

Språkrådet, the Swedish Language Council, issues a list of new words every year that officially enter the Swedish language. Some of them make sense, some are just silly, but most are related to pop culture.

When I was reading the list over the weekend, my husband and I were laughing over the word ogooglebar. It means, to be “ungoogleable.” And then we thought, I wonder if Google knows about it

Yea, well, Google did send Språkrådet nasty grams to change the definition of the word and let everyone know that “google” is protected under copyright. And that copyright extends to languages. God forbid we use a copyright word in the dictionary!

Ann Cederberg, CEO of Språkrådet wrote, “Google har nämligen glömt en sak: språkutvecklingen bryr sig inte om varumärkesskydd.” Meaning, “Google has forgotten one thing: language development does not care about copyright.

It is too bad, ogooglebar is a great word. I am sure most Swedes won’t care and will probably go out of their way to use the word as often as possible just to annoy Google.

For now, stay tuned for the new Swedish words of 2012.

7 Things I Don’t Really Hate About Sweden Anymore

Like anyone living in a foreign country, you eventually get used to things. Some things just remain a nuisance while others are accepted as cultural idiosyncrasies.

Now that I have been here for a few years, I have come to terms with a lot of things. Some aspects drive me crazy (more on that later) but overall, I am doing my best to take a laissez-faire approach to serious issues. If the people aren’t forcing and clamoring for change, why I should be the outspoken one to hate on things? And if people don’t hate it, should I really hate it?

On the positive side, Sweden is becoming more of a place with choices. More independent shops, more items at the grocery stores, and more ethnic restaurants. Nicer people with more international experiences. Sweden is becoming a real fondue pot of goodness.

So, in no particular order, my list of things I don’t hate… too much.

1. Fitted Bedsheets – There was once a time when you could only find poor quality cotton bedsheets at IKEA. In white. ONLY white. Now, a few more stores here and there are carrying them. There is not a huge selection but there is a selection nonetheless.

Finding Egyptian cotton color sheets at a reasonable price is still difficult. Maybe at Hästens or NK I can find overpriced sheets. Instead, I buy sheets in the US to bring back. I keep my sanity and comfy sheets!

2. Swedish drivers – Let’s replace all “Swedish” with “Stockholm.” Stockholm drivers are awful, Swedish drivers not really. So an apology to all Swedish drivers (not Stockholm ones) for thinking you drive like Stockholmers.

Seriously, when you see a car cut off a police vehicle, and the police does not do anything, you know it is a wild wild west.

3. Rude Swedish behavior – Again, let’s replace “Swedish” with “Stockholm.” Stockholmers can be incredibly rude. While we call say the same about New York City residents, the city has earned the popular/awesome cred to have rude citizens. Stockholm is no New York.

But, overall, Stockholmers have become nicer, especially store clerks and waiters. They are not as stuck up and aloof as they used to be. Yay!

4. Systembolaget – I still hate that place but I have to accept its purpose. And I have come to terms that many Swedes do not trust themselves, or others, when it comes to regulating alcohol intake. Systemet exists for the sake of Sweden and it is something I can live with.

Besides, road-tripping to Germany for beer is awesome.

5. America bashing – The US does so many “WTF” things these days (hello, Teabaggers!) that I can understand the America bashing. For example, take gun control. How do you support people who advocate *no* background checks or social security registration? That’s America for you.

But I do mind when Swedes compare themselves to the developing world with, “See you shouldn’t complain, we don’t have that kind of traffic in India. We have traffic but it’s not India, we do not need to worry about it.”

Comparing yourself to the developing world is like comparing Einstein to an Autistic child, of course Einstein will be superior on all levels. But that doesn’t give him the right to slack off or a be a douche bag. If Swedes want to compare, compare yourselves to the developed world or to the Nordic region. Not to Sudan or India or Zimbabwe. K, rant over.

6. The weather – It sounds whiney, and sometimes it is whiney but poor Sweden did get the short end of the stick when it comes to habitable places on Earth. The more I think of it, the more I believe complaining about the weather is some cathartic experience to make Swedes happier.

7. No one takes responsibility – Change is happening at a glacier pace to make people/companies responsible for their actions. I think it will happen one day that the government agencies that make decisions actually have the teeth to enforce them. And maybe some corrupt and dysfunctional practices can finally come to an end. Maybe, hopefully.

Overall, I love Sweden. I know I am harsh and rude to you at times. But I hold you to a higher standard than India or the US. I expect you to know better. And I expect you to be a role model to others.

But you’re proving your worth. Just don’t let lagom and jantelag pull you down to the status quo. Sweden, I hate you at times because I love you.

The Nordic Region – The Happiest Place on Earth

For all that Swedes complain about the winter, weather, and rain, Sweden is one of the happiest places on Earth.

And so is Finland, Norway, and Denmark. Our saddest little neighbor, Iceland, is only the 15th happiest place on Earth.

Overall, the Nordic region is one happy family and Scandinavia is Disneyland in real life.

The 2012 Legatum Prosperity Index, produced by a British non-partisan public policy organisation, identifies the world’s happiest and saddest countries. They used several sources of data (objective and subjective) from Gallup, World Development Indices, and self researched. The 2012 LPI is similar to the UN World Happiness Report though the latter relies more on surveys than objective data.

The LPI focused on eight areas: economy, entrepreneurship, governance, education, health, safety, personal freedom and social capital.

Scandinavia and the greater group, the Nordic region, rank near the top in every category.

Here are the rankings of the Nordic countries. A few OECD and BRIC countries are included for comparison.

ship &
Education Social
United Kingdom261862071130121335686.2
United States202122710145101247153
Use the arrows to zero out a category and reset the ranking list.
In some ways, the findings are not too surprising. India, while growing economically, severely lacks basic access to healthcare and sanitation. Women, suffering some of the greatest injustices in the world, sends the country spiraling downwards when backwards ideology like “marrying your rapist” is acceptable. Interestingly, governance is the country’s highest ranking factor; perhaps a sign that India has the potential to become a better and happier place.

The United States dropped two spots to 12 after three years of holding 10. A massive recession coupled with increased long term unemployment, decisive elections, and long wars have played its toll on the American psyché. The next several years will tell if the people can return to higher levels or continue on a broken path.

There was one very interesting finding. Nordic swept the Entrepreneurship and Opportunity category. Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway took the top four positions. I would not have expected it because the venture climate is still lukewarm. Delving into the study questions, it became clear that the Nordic region would top the list. Some questions included, Mobile phones (per 100 people), Mobile phones per household, Secure internet servers (per 1 million people), Good place for entrepreneurs to start a business? (% yes), Business start-up costs (% of GNI per capita).

And most definitely the Nordic region is home to cheap cell phone plans and low start up costs from Skatteverket. If you think about it, how many people do you know owning a HB or AB in Sweden versus your home country?

Looking at the World Happiness Report, the Nordic region holds the top three slots (Denmark, Finland, Norway) followed by the Netherlands and Canada. The whining about the Swedish weather pushed Sweden out of the top.

Still, after all our complaining about Sweden, it really is not a bad place. We are happy, prosperous, and eat a lot of semlor. What more could one ask?

Now only if Disney opened a Disneyland here would we be truly the happiest people on Earth.


Lance Armstrong, You Broke My Heart

Last night Lance Armstrong, the once king of cycling, was on a special Oprah interview to discuss doping and his problems. Or something like that.

This has nothing to do with Sweden, but sports and doping affects everyone. And we, as fans and admirers, end up feeling betrayed and angry over years of denial by athletes.

Like Mark McGuire who denied to Congress for years he doped. I never respected him so him losing all credibility didn’t bother me at all. But thousands of people did, and many lost their faith in baseball because of him.

Sadly, I thought Lance Armstrong was different. I think many of us did. But he’s proven himself to be the douche king today.

Lance was this guy that came out of nowhere and took the Tour de France by storm. Surviving cancer, becoming an American winner in an European race, pushing hard in an long endurance sport, Lance was the apple pie for America.

I met him in person in 2001. He was charming and nice. I was the second to last person at the book signing. I still got a hug. And I don’t know why, but I had mad respect for him.

Those couple years, I spent July glued to the TV with my USAToday newspaper spreads of the teams, circuits, and gossip. I read how so many cyclists fell to the devils of doping. How Lance could never do this to us.

Then in 2005 I stopped watching the Tour. Drugs, cheating, scandals became the headlines. All of sudden, Armstrong was in this defensive attack mode when it came to using testosterone and EPO and other shit. He insulted reporters, insulted his friends, and even sued some of his friends.

The US Postal Service team was falling apart. I turned myself away from the Tour, realizing it was being driven by drug addicts.

And now here’s Lance sitting in a chair talking to Oprah in a weird second person stance. Saying how “he needed to win at all costs” and “he should apologize.” He admitted to being a bully.

Armstrong is the fall from grace. A man we all so admired for his perserverance and committement is today, nothing more than a fraud, a bully, a cheater, a liar, a fake. Even a douche for dumping Sheryl Crow because of her “biological clock.”

The second interview takes place tonight at 9PM EST, 3AM Swedish time, on the OWN channel. But you can go online to their site and watch it live.

I’ll be watching it because I hope he can look me in the eyes and tell me he’s a lying liar, cheater, and overall horrible person for destroying a sport, a nation’s admiration, and his teammates.

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}

Guns, Fear, & US

By now, all of you have read or heard about the mass killings in Newton, CT. The killing of twenty children and seven adults has sent the nation into another state of mourning, the fourth this year, just before the happy holidays.

There is a lot of talk now, as always after such a national tragedy. What happened? Why? Who was he? Why these babies? Why this school? Why his mother? Were the guns legal? Was he insane?

Some of these answers will take months to piece together, long after America forgets what happens and until we experience another national tragedy.

I had a very difficult time deciding both what to write and what angle to take. After several hours of writing drafts and researching, I still do not know. I wrote this post because many of you, as Swedes and Europeans believe us Americans are gun toting nutballs. There are many, but not all. And change, especially Constitutional change isn’t easy.

Bear with me, I’ve broken this post down in several parts in order address some issues. They are the tip of the iceberg and it was difficult to not be too emotional. Plus this post is really long and without pictures.

My first thoughts:

Guns. Gun control. Gun rights. Fear. Protection. God. The 2nd Amendment.

An infinite discussion with those on the left promoting “gun control” versus those on the right promoting “gun rights.”

Is this really productive? It is an eternal argument between the right and the left over who has more money, more lobbying power, and a louder mouth.

The 2nd Amendment
There is something that will unlikely happen now or in the future: repealment of the 2nd Amendment. It has happened only once that an amendment was repealed (the 18th Amendment, Prohibition). It was probably a dumb idea to morally control people by outright banning a substance, spending millions controlling the ban, and losing millions in potential taxation. The US came its senses, overturned it with the 21st Amendment and left it to the states to control alcohol.

With guns, we could take a similar approach. Repeal the 2nd amendment. We could create a new amendment, leave it to the states, or share the power between the state and federal government. Many Swedes and Europeans ask me why the United States doesn’t just repeal the amendment. The answer is simple: it’s complicated.

To repeal the 2nd amendment, a new amendment must be proposed, of which there are two ways:
BOTH the House of Representatives and the Senate approve the proposal by a two-thirds majority vote. The amendment does not require the signature of the President.
Two-thirds of the state legislatures ask Congress to call a national convention to propose amendments. This has never happened.

To ratify, or pass, the amendment, there are two ways:
Three-fourths of the state legislatures approve it.
The ratifying conventions in three-fourths of the states approve it. This method has been used only once — to ratify the 21st Amendment.

Any amount of common sense would tell us that getting this many Congressmen to the table AND a lot of states to sign on will neither be easy or cheap.

Which brings us to the point, guns will continue to exist in the US. These massacres are the price we pay for the freedom of some people who don’t want it regulated. Really, we should not be surprised when such events happens over and over and over again. Disgusting but happens.

Fear Factor
The NRA and many gun associations use fear as a tactic to promote gun ownership. Fear the government is taking over your freedom. Fear that Obama will restrict gun access (The White House hasn’t even tried these four years). Fear that the bad guys will have more firepower because they don’t care about the law anyway. Fear that, if someone starts shooting people, who’s gonna shot the shooter?!

“If only I had a gun, I could’ve killed him…” That is the rationale of many gun owners.

“I’m sitting in a theater, three rows in front of me a man stands up and starts shooting. Immediately I access my pistol, stand up and then end his life. He has killed 2 people, but 12 others will go home alive. You do the math,” said Cestlavie3, a user commentor on CNN.

So because this person has a concealed weapon he will somehow miraculously see the gunman in the dark, pull out his pistol, and shoot only him? Impressive. He probably hasn’t heard of friendly fire or understands the psychological impact of ending another person’s life but hey, he does have a gun and will save us all.

Therein lies the problem with Americans. Many of these gun tooters are a bunch of standoffish idiots who think they would become Batman and be able to save anyone with the blasting of a gun. Like, “I’d rather die with a gun in my hand trying to defend my family and myself than see them all die in front of me knowing I did nothing to try and stop it.” Good for you. I’d prefer you not accidentally shoot me though.

I know friends with guns. A few of them use their guns exclusively for hunting and would never carry a gun as a concealed weapon. They have handguns and rifles and feel that high ammunition cartridges are for people looking to kill people, not for shooting tea saucers.

I personally do not know people who have guns and leave them in their handbag or backpack, but there are many. They don’t lock their gun up at home because it would take “too long to get the gun if a bad guy enters your home.” They would have their children invite friends over and still not have the guns locked away. Morons? Absolutely.

Case in point; there are about 130-170 deaths per year from accidental killings of children with firearms. It is not necessarily because laws are too lax but that parents are stupid. They believe having a gun is a right and not a responsibility and somehow magically, “guns don’t kill people, people do.” Well, those “people” are kids who may not even know what they’re playing with. The rationale might then be: Let’s blame those fucking kids for playing with guns and killings others!

The Israel Fear Factor
But let’s look at a country that has real imminent threat: Israel. A country geographically placed at the heart of religion has missiles, guns, and weapons always pointed at it. In the “hope” that one day, Israel could literally be wiped off the face of the Earth.

That’s frightening. That is fucking scary actually. Knowing everyday of your existence is only because of an armistice other countries brokered to keep your ass alive.

They all must be owning guns, tons of guns!

After all, Israelis are no stranger to pipe bombs, suicide bombers and shootings. Guns are visibly seen everywhere. And yet, citizens have to prove to the government that there is a need to own a gun. Hear that? Civilians don’t get to just waltz around and mazel-tov with guns.

People carrying those guns? They are security, military, police and some settlers. These civilians, usually those in settlement areas, that pack heat have to get approval by the government, law enforcement, trained professionals at shooting ranges, and medical professionals.

Shalom Bear wrote an op-ed piece piece in The Jewish Press, “Even though Israelis watch the same movies and play the same video games that glorify gun violence as Americans do, Israelis, unlike Americans, are taught from a young age a mature, respectful and structured interaction with their weapons. In America, it’s considered a right to carry a gun, but in Israel, it’s considered both right and a privilege.”

He hit the nail on the head. I know guns are not going to be banned anytime soon in the United States. I also believe people have the right to own firearms, within reason. I am not saying people shouldn’t own guns, I am saying use some common sense.

Switzerland’s Neutrality, Chocolate, & Guns
We all know Switzerland to be the land of the Alps, chocolate, and banks with clandestine clients. And gun uncontrol supporters (that’s my new phrase for people who want no government interference) point out Switzerland’s high gun ownership rate of “1 in 2 citizens.” Partially true. Conscripted Swiss men own guns, regular civilians and those out of the out military do not. Most conscripted men may keep their guns at home but each canton (province) is moving towards making those guns stored in depots, not at home. Ammunition, since 2007, has been forbidden to be kept at home. Also, non-miltary citizens do not get easy access to guns.

Therefore, the claim by gun uncontrol supporters is “look at Switzerland, guns don’t kill people, people do.” I agree, Switzerland has one of the lowest rates of homicide in the world with a firearm coupled with high gun ownership.

But let’s take this out of the vacuum and put the statement in reality. You know what else Switzerland is good at? Having the lowest mortality rates, lowest poverty rate, highest development, highest gender wage equality, and universal health insurance. Oh and 27% of the Swiss don’t believe in God.

Switzerland doesn’t have mass killings and firearm violence because the country and people believe in creating a strong society based on education, health, and equality. Does that sound like what America is today or ever has been?

Here’s the update to the cliche that guns don’t kill people, people do: guns don’t kill people, Americans do. Get that? The Swiss take care of the people so much more than the US that really, gun violence comes down to a culture thing. The Swiss know how to use their guns and treat them with respect, echoing Shalom point about Israeli treatment towards guns.

We can also see it as, Swedes admit to having little control over alcohol moderation and thus, leave it to the goverment to regulate, least we lose generations to Absolut drinking. But Americans are so crazyed and self obsessed with the right to own a gun and believe the end justifies the means, no matter what. Shooting in a school? We need more guns in schools. We need God in school. We need the militia guarding schools with giant fucking “assault rifles” to scare the bad guys away.

How about we get some common sense about respecting guns?

“What Do You Want ME To Do? Guns Don’t Kill People, People Do”
Point taken and as mentioned above, guns don’t kill people, Americans do. And part of the “only in America” blame stems from a lack of mental health treatment. Many of these mass killings are the result of mentally imbalanced people getting their hands on firearms, legal and otherwise. Yet, the American system of taking care of them is nearly non existant.

Liza Long could be one of those mothers. In a heart wrenching and controversial piece entitled, “I am Adam Lanza’s Mom” she discusses her own son who has yet untreated mental imbalance. An imbalance that can make violent, angry, and scary. An imbalance that she had the police called to restrain him. Your own child. A 13 year old child. I cannot bear to think of the burden and difficulty it is to call law enforcement and press charges against a kid, your own.

For her, she doesn’t know what to do anymore. There are not many choices and those that exist are terrible ones. Give him away to an institution, put him jail, drug him. In all, the cause of his problems is not solved.

Let’s put this on the national agenda. Let us help this mom and every mom and every child out there to get the help they need to prevent future massacres by imbalanced people. Here’s my plug to donate to NAMI: http://www.nami.org/.

What about Compromise?
Gun owners, like Edwin says, “I have nothing that qualifies in the minds of most progressives as an “assault weapon,” but if I could afford one I would. They’re interesting, and enjoyable to shoot.”

Kudos to him and many of his fellow guns for being smart and keeping their locked up safely (unlike the moronic parents who don’t).

He doesn’t believe they should be illegal because hey, most gun owners are boring fellows who keep their guns safely and deserve to own them because they’re fun. And who’s the government to say they cannot have fun?

But here is the problem. He asks, “what do you want us [law abiding gun owners] to do?” He wants to own his fun “assault rifle” so there obviously isn’t room for debate there. He won’t give up any “fun” for the sake of the greater good.

Which is why comprising with gun owners is damn difficult. They want their fun even if means a few assholes every year mow down fellow Americans.

You know what I would love gun owners to do: how about have a little more common sense for the greater good? Society passes rules, written and unwritten, based on protecting and maintaining a healthy group. And the opportunity cost is sometimes losing some personal rights for the greater good. I know it sucks.

I want to blast Friday on my sound system at 2am but apparently there’s an ordinance against loud noise after midnight. Ironic, the government can take away my right to fun to play lame music on the boom box but not your right to fun to blast tea saucers with an “assault rifle.”

How about you say,

“We know as gun owners that there are some assholes out there who get guns and mow down little kids in schools with semi-automatic guns and other powerful weapons. Those weapons can easily spray a lot bullets quickly because their job is to kill people, not bunnies in the forest. So how about: 1) we agree to banning these kinds of weapons and high cartridge clips (or whatever weapons); 2) help sponsor tougher legislation for obtaining firearms so mentally imbalanced people can’t just order them online; 3) and push training classes for every person carrying a concealed weapon so they understand it is not the same as carrying a phone.

In return, these kinds of guns are legal {a list of guns we agree to} and we get to hang out at the shooting range enjoying a cola and learning about guns.”

Hey! I could sign on to that! People who want to ban every kind of gun are in their own deluded world unless they rip apart the Constitution so I’m not including them here. For the rest of us, let’s all meet in the middle somewhere. Guns exist, guns will always exist, but let’s say guns are a right AND A RESPONSIBILITY.

Finally, I’m going to be untactful and say what many Europeans, Americans, and probably cats think:

GUNS ARE A RESPONSIBILITY. Here’s a notice to you idiots who pass legislation allowing guns in bars, idiots who think “background” checks should be eliminated, and idiot gun owners who think they have the right to own every firearm available to mankind because dammit the Second Amendment didn’t say what *kind*. There is no way to be diplomatic, you are all idiots.

For every good, law abiding gun owner who believes in gun control *shock, they are some!*, you idiots fuck it up for everyone else.

If the cost of owning all these weapons is tacitly allowing mass shootings every so often, shame on you. Shame on me for not standing up. Shame on America for putting the lives of everyone at risk for weapons, power, and money.

But since I don’t have millions in the bank and a bunch of compass keychains to giveaway, no one cares what I think.

And that’s the point, my opinion does not matter on this issue as long as the other side has the political power, the money, and the keychains to beat down my First Amendment right to free speech of common sense. I’ll just have to hope one day people listen.

Swedish Christmas Guide 2012

December is here! And that means, Christmas, S:t Lucia festivities, and food. Lots of food. Oh and lots of decoration.

Over the years I write a couple articles about Christmas in Sweden and after sometime, the posts get all mixed up together.

To make it easier for you all to find the right post about Christmas, I put together a list of links from over the years.

NK & Hamngatan in Stockholm at Christmastime

Om Anders braskar, skall julen slaskar – Will it snow on Christmas? The age-long question is answered if snow falls on November 30.

Difference between Swedish & American Christmases – Trying to explain how your Christmas is different than from across the pond? This post should help you with the little details in each of the traditions.

Epiphany – The 13th day after Christmas. We get a day off.

Christmas holidays – A list of holidays and days off throughout the Christmas season.


Glögg & Lussebullar Recipes – Swedish and American version on making those delicious little saffron buns. To satisfy your thirst, make your own glögg, mulled wine. It is a lot easier than you think!

Julbord Foods – Want to know what you will eat at Julbord with the in-laws or your company? I made three versions for the Julbord guide translated from Swedish to English. The article, a two page Julbord printer-friendly guide, and a three page large font guide. Print it and share it with your family or coworkers! {If you do share with your office mates, please don’t remove the Lost in Stockholm name.}

Swedish Christmas Foods – Dishes to make at home for your family julbord.
Nordiska Kompaniet {NK}’s Christmas Display – If you love seeing the shops light up their windows for Christmas, then don’t miss out at NK, Sweden’s most well known department store.

Christmas Photos – A lot of pretty photos to help you oooo and ahhh.

Christmas Decoration – Christmas stars, advent candles, we can’t forgot the decorations! The biggest conundrum: when to put the tree up?

Christmas in the Nordic Region
Christmas in Iceland – A guest post written by Tinna. Want to know what the Yule lads are doing? Read her post and perhaps mix in a little spirit from The North Pole.