The United States is Closed

If you are currently visiting the United States on vacation and are hoping to see the Statue of Liberty, Lincoln Memorial, or even Alcatraz, well, sad news, they are all closed.
US goverment shutdown closed

US goverment shutdown - Lincoln memorial
That’s because of the clusterfuckery of House Republications holding the budget hostage so they can “negotiate” with the Senate to delay the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, by one year.

Does it makes sense now? No? Me either. Honestly, it’s just a bunch fucktards in the right of right of right Republican party that are making everyone facepalm. Of course, the tea party is jumping for joy that we can eliminate the evils of healthcare for all.

After all, “Americans don’t want Obamacare.”

I can’t facepalm myself enough times. Let’s ask Jon Stewart and see what he thinks of the government shutdown.

You can watch the rest of the videos on The Daily Show’s website.

If you want to know who’s causing this clusterfuck of stupidity, Gawker put together a list of crazy Republications. I mean, these are bat-shit-fucking crazy people. They’re not normal Republicans. Normal Republicans are hiding in the closet and thinking, “oh fuck! why did we ever accept these people into our party. Now we’re going to become obsolete.”

These 10 men-devils, Michelle Bachmann is not human so I don’t count her as female, are holding the entire country hostage. For them, it’s the happiest day of their lives. For the rest of us, we think they are idiots.
10 worst republicans government shutdown

And let’s not forget about the douchiest tea-bagger of all: Rep. Randy Neugebauer. He made a Park Ranger apologize for the closing of the Veterans Memorial. If you’d like to tell him he’s an idiot, here are his contact details: 611 University Ave. Suite #220, Lubbock, TX 79401, Phone: (806) 763-1611, Fax: (806) 767-9168

In any event, for those of you wondering when this will end, I have no idea. I really have no good idea when the House will come to its senses, or the rest of the Republican party kick the crazies out. This is the showdown the Tea Party has been waiting for. They’re probably drunk on power, singing and dancing on top of the dead bodies of the United States federal employees.

Because, you know they care for the American people.

A Tight Squeeze – Driving in Stockholm

Sometimes I love Europe. Love it because it is crazy. Although not like craziness is restricted to Europe, America is plenty crazy, we have oodles of craziness.

But when you add together Stockholm and driving, you know it cannot be good.

Like this one lane road in a residential part of Södermalm. It’s a small road, enough to fit a car driving and a car parking.

But sometimes we get this awesomeness.

Swedish Parking Fail

Why use the parking lane when you can park on the road itself! Brilliant!

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.

Why Lost in Stockholm Exists… And Why I Write

The most popular (or infamous) article on this site is the “10 Things I Hate About Sweden.” Somehow, people take it so personally that it mandates a comment filled with insults, hate, or name-calling directed to me. And they believe that this entire blog exists to hate on Sweden.

If that is the case, then I sure have some power!

Today, I find the hate comments amusing and pitiful. Before, I would feel bad when people would post a comment that *I* must be fat, ugly, stupid, ignorant, dumb and have no right to say such things because America is just as bad.

I don’t claim the US to be better on all fronts, on some issues, yes (shopping, customer service), but on many, no (health care costs, women’s rights). And yes, sometimes I have made comparisons that were perhaps unequal or not related to the topic at hand.

Many of you read these articles with such a fervour that you are drawn to a level of insanity that insulting others somehow rectifies the situation. Perhaps also you want to fuel the fire with name calling too. But we should all understand that pointing out others’ faults does not absolve your own faults.

I loved what one of the regular readers posted:

For all of those who take this post the wrong way.
Take a damn chill pill, this is meant mostly for laughs and fun while describing stereotypes. If you recognize yourself too much and feel a need to reply in a offensive nature then perhaps take a hint and change yourself instead of trying to defend something that does not really matter. For everyone else, that dont fit in, well be fun and interessting and fun and interessting people will find you. Swedish people are not hard to make friends with, its just that there is a certain procedure involved=D. Good luck.

//Björn

Thanks Björn!

I love this blog and I love *most* readers who come here. This is a place for you to feel at home, debate, drink a cup of coffee, learn something new, feel better, and go home. Some of you are in moments of angst and loneliness being in a foreign country; certainly I have felt burden of being a foreign housewife.

Some of you want some good laughs for a few rough weeks you had understanding Swedes in your office. The lack of selection of tissue paper and fitted sheets should make you laugh, not get angry.

And of course, for many of you, you are deciphering the secret code of Swedish men and women. It is a tundra out there, so keep your club tight to your chest.

There are unfortunately a few bad apples here. I have allowed a lot of comments, despite their aggressive, spiteful nature to be approved. I do not like censoring comments, but when someone believes insulting me betters this blog, he/she is not making this ecosystem a better place. Read the comment policy first, think before you type, and if you still want to be a douchebag and write something stupid, go ahead. I will not approve it, but I may keep it for the dumb comment hall of fame.

Same goes with sending me a hateful or stupid email. I will read it and possibly post it later for all to see your stupidity. Case in point, the blogger who said I copied her article about removing your shoes, who cc’ed her manager, and demanded I link to her piece. Who knew she owned the intellectual property to that idea!

Please don’t be an idiot and write me something snarky and conceited.

And if you really think I have copyrighted one of you ideas, then please do send me an email explaining the situation and I will do my best to rectify it, if it is reasonable.

All in all, I enjoy writing here and I hope to continue to blog. I have so many exciting pieces to write about, especially pretty travel articles in Sweden. Overall, read this blog with a pinch of salt and use it as your place for learning and growing.

Keep the love on for Sweden, despite her depressive winters and gloomy summers she is always a beauty.

Love to all you readers and supporters!
xoxo,
sapphire

Sweden’s Democratic Twitter Experience Implodes – Stephen Colbert Offers to Take Over

UPDATE: June 21st, 2012. I found some more shocking things Sonia said that put together, qualifies her for a padded white room. Quotes are listed below.

You know it’s always fun when a country fucks up. And fucks up royally via Twitter.

I totally missed this but a few days ago, a Swede on the Twitter account @Sweden went a bit weird and started a debate about what is a Jew.

I.e. What’s the Fuzz about Jews?

If that wasn’t weird enough, she did it not on her personal Twitter, but on the Twitter account run by government of Sweden, run by the Swedish Institue. They’re a government entity responsible to pick these fine, outstanding Swedish citizens (citizens only…UT and PUT holders can take a hike) thought she represented the views of Swedes.

WOW, what an epic fail!

Sonja Abrahamsson, the “low educated” Swedish mother had her “I don’t know what a Jew looks like” moment and sparked outrage.

While I’m all okay on offending people, what she said went too far. It starts with:

Before WW2 Hitler was one of the most beautiful names in the whole wide world. I know. Its as chocking as dolphin rapists.
– @sweden / Sonja (@sweden) 10:37 PM – 11 Jun 12

On her blog, she even nicknamed herself Sonia “Hitler” Abrahamsson. Ummm, psycho, troll, or nutcase?

“Whats the fuzz with jews. You can’t even see if a person is a jew, unless you see their penises, and even if you do, you can’t be sure!?”

— @sweden / Sonja (@sweden) June 12, 2012

And then turns into:

“In nazi germany they even had to sow stars on their sleeves. If they didn’t, they could never now who was a jew and was not a jew.”
— @sweden / Sonja (@sweden) June 12, 2012
Poof! And Sweden’s democratic experience to be tech savvy and a neutral nation implodes.

The only useful statement she did make was:

Im sorry if some of you find the question offensive. Thats was not my purpose. I just don’t get why some people hates jews so much.

— @sweden / Sonja (@sweden) June 12, 2012

You can see the Twitter feed here:

While it is great a country allows its citizens to share their thoughts and ideas, there is a fine line of funny and apocalyptic stupidity.  But Sweden’s Twitter account has not been without controversy.  The first Swede to represent the account was an open masturbator, and though hilarious, not quite appropriate for the general audience.

And though Swedes are all about free speech, they have stifling strict hate-speech laws. Nearly every time Jimmy Åkesson opens his mouth (the leader of SverigesDemokraterna), he’s arrested for hate speech against the immigrant communities.

But when a Swede starts questioning what a Jew looks like, it is acceptable. Perhaps she has never met a Jew because they don’t want to be known as the people “wearing yellow stars or with cut penises.”

Those Twitter messages are still live and the Swedish Institute and the government has not apologized for them. Perhaps they want us all to wear stars so we can be figured out? Or it’s okay to make fun of hungry gays with aids.

At least there’s hope that Stephen Colbert can take control of the Twitter account and bring complete mayhem to Sweden’s face.

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,Video Archive

Sonia made a rebuttal video to Stephen Colbert’s second news coverage of the incident.

And if Sweden ever wants an immigrant to poke fun of Sweden (they’ve had very few colored people run their account…)…well, I am here!

Stockholm Decides to Consider, Maybe, Possibly Fining People for Cigarette Littering – Half Win

Two weeks ago, the Moderaterna Traffic and labor commissioner in charge of sanitation in Stockholm, Ulla Hamilton, wrote an op-ed piece in the newspaper Aftonbladet about cigarette littering {cigaretfimpar} and the need to curtail butt litter.

Basically, she wrote littering is bad and that the city needs to pass a law that both makes it illegal to dump cigarette butts but also considers it a finable offense.

Currently, there is only the Stockholm litter law which went into effect last summer. All those beer cans and engångsgrill trashed in the parks became an offense. But in typical Swedish fashion, not one person has been fined for leaving their crap out in public.

To me, this is a big DUH. The fact that Stockholm has never passed a law against littering until last year and even then, avoided placing cigarette butts as ‘litter,’ astonishes me. No wonder most parks in the city are a dump.

In 2010, Stockholm announced it would be working with the tobacco companies to clean cigarette butts off the street with nifty vacuum cleaners. Instead of having the people be responsible for the crap they throw on the sidewalks, the city offers a cleaning service to deal with the problem.

Seriously, the city needs to get with it. I am tired of living in the supposed “most clean city of Europe” when nothing is done to make the people be responsible for the shit they throw on the streets.

Here is a plan I support:

  • Make it illegal to dump cigarette butts and make it finable civil offense (note: not criminal).
  • Hire police officers that would be in charge of giving citations. I am guessing this is revolutionary idea considering in the three years I have lived next to Polishuset, I have NEVER ONCE seen a traffic officer issuing tickets. Hell, I have seen a traffic officer twice in my entire time living in Stockholm. They’re as good as severely endangered species.
  • Have police make occasional sweeps in parks and public places to fine people litter cans, garbage, and cigarette butts.
  • Provide more garbage cans, especially, small litter baskets to accomodate cigarette butts.
  • Blitz the city with campaigns and education to inform citizens: 1. littering is BAD; 2. littering is city offense; 3. cigarette butts are disgusting and destroy the environment.

Fast facts about Stockholm litter:

The City of Stockholm’s garbage measurement was conducted with the Keep Sweden Tidy and SCB.

  • Cigarette butts account for an average 65 percent of the estimated debris objects in streets and public places in Stockholm.
  • A 2005 survey shows that over 1 billion cigarette butts are thrown on the ground in Sweden each year. This is an increase of 36 percent since 2007.
  • For the sixth consecutive year, Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation will have 23 to 27 litter picking days in 2012.
  • Kindergartens and schools will receive materials about how we take care of our environment and will participate on litter picking days.
  • The City of Stockholm employs 150 sanitation workers to pick up more than 5000 tons of garbage each year.  That is more than 6 kg per Stockholmer.  This includes  chewing gum, candy wrappers, cigarette butts, cigarettes, glass paper, pouch, coffee mugs and much more. 
  • The litter costs SEK 100 million annually to pick up from the streets which instead could have been placed in one of the 11 000 bins found in the city.

What’s really amazing is that kids will be assisting on clean up days.  Not adults or adults who smoke and throw the cigarettes on the ground, but kids.  Sure, children should the importance of keeping a clean city but shouldn’t littering adults do the same?

No matter what, there is absolutely no excuse that Stockholmers have the ability to litter without repercussion.

Delta, Air France, KLM & Most Airlines Won’t Allow Rabbits to Travel Internationally – You Suck

I found out disappointing news from my favorite airline, Delta. They no longer accept rabbits as checked baggage internationally. Only on *some* domestic flights will they allow rabbits in the cabin. Which ones? Call them and figure it out yourself.

This is very disappointing for me since I have in the past traveled with Delta on domestic and international routes with my pet rabbit. I hoped to have continued that service.

But when Northwest Airlines and Delta merged, the good old days were dead.

Of course, the other airline members in the Skyteam fare even worse:
Air France – Rabbits not permitted at all

KLM – Rabbits not permitted at all

Alitalia – Rabbits not permitted at all

Korean Air – Rabbits not permitted at all

China Airlines – Rabbits not permitted at all (ps your search box is broken!)

Delta Airlines – Rabbits allowed on some domestic flights in cabin and checked baggage. NEVER for international flights on cabin, checked, or cargo.

Aeroflot – Rabbits not permitted at all (ps your website was written in 1984).

Alaska Airlines – They allow bunnies in the cabin on domestic flights!

 
Star Alliance:
United Airlines – They say yes. Called them and received conflicting answers. Their email service took TWO MONTHS to respond and even then their service was moronic, “we hope you found your answer.”

Update: We’ve started calling United Airlines again but as usual after 30minutes on the phone, the operator said “no” to rabbits (their website says “yes”) and put us on the hold again for another 15 minutes. This time they said pets can travel in CARGO only on international flights.

UPDATE 2: Rabbits allowed in cabin on domestic flights (though it took speaking two supervisors up in the chain of command) and cargo on international flights.

Continental Airlines – They say yes but like United they too don’t know the rules.
Update: Now that Continental is merged, it doesn’t matter.

Finnair – Their website says they accept “cats, dogs, and rodents” in cabins. You can get a rabbit to as far as JFK and that’s it. UPDATE, October 10th – The rabbit MUST BE in a hard case of 35cm max length. That length is impossible to fit a bunny. There are no exceptions. DO NOT TRAVEL WITH FINNAIR FOR CABIN. I have just had the worst nightmare ever.

At least Finnair ALLOWS rabbits internationally even if to only JFK in the United States. What a miracle.

Luftansa – Rabbits NOT permitted at all.

SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) – Rabbits NOT permitted at all.

 
One World team:
British Airways – Rabbits not permitted at all
American Airlines – Rabbits not permitted at all
Iberia – cannot be clarified through the website; must call.
 
Other Airlines:

Virgin and the Richard Branson club – Rabbits NOT permitted at all

 
And on EVERY airline listed above, cats and dogs can travel in the cabin.

The Discrimination
It is well known that people discriminate against rabbits. Some people believe rabbits are only good for producing Easter eggs while some believe rabbits are relatives to the rodent family. They are not. Rabbits are part of the lagomorph family and don’t have much to do with rodents except for being furry and a mammal.

And the USDA considers rabbits to be chickens when it comes to meat processing.

I already emailed with several Delta representatives and the chance of ever taking a rabbit in cabin or via checked baggage internationally is the same as getting a ticket to the Moon.

Why rabbits are not considered equal pets in status to cats and dogs. Why are rabbits not awarded the same kind of travel opportunity?

Because the airlines hate cute, furry bunnies.

Rabbits are vegetarian, they make no noise, and few people are allergic to them.

Therefore, we can assume airlines do not like mammals that eat plants, are silent, and are allergy friends.

It must be better to have a screaming cat in front of you (e.g. my Air France flight from Mumbai to Paris) and have other passengers sneezing than let a rabbit on the plane. And the cat’s carrier had his own seat!

I contacted some House Rabbit Societies and rabbit organizations in the United States. Most did not know or didn’t bother answering. A couple HRS are looking into this to get more information. Perhaps we should start a massive campaign to “love thy flying bun?”

At the end, airlines must be so shocked to find pissed off passengers; stripping away benefits and hiking prices surprisingly does not make for happy customers. I fly out of necessity, not because I want to.

Is there any airline left in the world to have enough decency to let a bunny fly in the cabin? Or is all hope dead?

The Swedish Batman is Leather Patch!

The Swedes have their own name for Batman: Läderlappan.

It literally translates to: Leather Patch.

Okay…I kid, not really. Läderlappen actually means Bat.

The ‘man’ is lost along the way though.

Errr, va?!

{thanks to Khawar for posting this to the FB page}

For the Swedes who seem to be confused and refuse to accept Batman is called Läderlappen, here are comic book covers from 1981.

Dear Adobe, You Have Crap Customer Service

I know I complain about customer service in Sweden a lot. But today, I bring you one of the worst companies I have encountered with personally. I’m not the only one who thinks their service sucks. You can read here, here, here, here, and here about horror stories from Adobe Service.
That was in 2009…Opps.

Even Lambert Walst, a VP at Adobe wrote:
“Our customers have experienced a level of service that is inconsistent with what they expect and deserve. This is unacceptable and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused. We are working diligently to resolve these issues.”
That was in 2009…Opps.

I thought buying a product online would be easy. And I thought, hell, it’s Adobe Lightroom, the standard for photographers, so why not get the latest version.

And yet, BUYING a product is impossible from their website. The amount of complaints and issues with the company appear that they tacitly encourage pirating.

I bought Lightroom on April 12th. After receiving an already dumb email that it takes one business day to process an order, I was already pissed off. Why one business day?

Here’s how buying a software product works online:
1. You put an item in the cart.
2. You go to “buy” and put in your credit card details. The gods at the credit card company approve immediately or not.
3. You receive the email with a download and serial number.
4. You install and everybody is happy!

Adobe, however, believes in this buying process:
1. You put an item in the cart.
2. You go to “buy” and put in your credit card details. The details go into credit limbo hell.
3. You receive an email from Adobe that says:
“Thank you for visiting the Adobe Store. We are currently reviewing your order! You will receive an email within the next business day confirming the status of your order. Your credit card will not be charged until your order has been processed. Information about your order is as follows:..”

4. You never receive an email again.
5. Your order in your adobe service account online has disappeared.
6. Your order number is no longer valid.
7. Your credit card (in my case, Paypal) has a “pending” against the order. Obviously, some genious at Adobe decide to process the order half-assed.

8. You go to Adobe website to write an email to figure out what happened. There is NO email contact. There is NO way to even fill out a contact form.
9. You find out the only way to contact Adobe is to call them and waste your international minutes on hold. Or just be on hold forever.
10. You cry and whine for several hours over the stupidity of a company’s customer service.
11. You give up.

I sent off several emails listed on The Consumerist website to the executives. I don’t expect a response and half the mails have already bounced back. If Adobe does contact me, I will update the post.

In the future, Adobe will have to give me their products for free. I cannot in good faith pay a company to treat me like an idiot in order to have their products. It makes me sad to leave the Adobe family, but I would like to keep some dignity in tact.

Until then, recommendations for a Lightroom equivalent software? I’m willing to pay up to $300 for it.