Day 80 – Back i Sverige!

Jen has done a great job picking up my slack on the blog front. We have been in Sweden for almost a week, and I have been back at work in a normal time zone mode for that week. Some interesting things happened.

I spent 2 weeks in the US, working from 3am to noon on Swedish time, and then working from noon to 5pm on house moving tasks, and usually to bed by 8pm. I was really grateful to be done with the real estate business and be back in Sweden.

The trip over was nerve-wracking. Our flights were canceled a week before departing, and we got tickets at the last minute on a MSP-IAD-FRA-CPH route that spanned 3 airlines, 4 airports, and a lot of customs/border crossings where we had to explain ourselves as to why we were traveling. And, of course, our bags were delayed for 5 days as Lufthansa failed to load them on our plane in Frankfurt. All in all, still not as stressful as the whole house-selling/moving/renting thing was. THAT was a non-stop cortisol bath.

Jen already mentioned me trying to work from home in the walk-in closet here. That doesn’t work so great because there is only one plug in there, and the light turns off automatically when the door is closed. So, I needed a lamp and a computer. Sigh. Back to the office.

Luckily, the office is a short, 13 min walk from the apartment. And it is a pleasant walk. You basically leave the new construction condos and then – bam – you are in the fields of the last hold-out farmers.

Fun thing today, however, was that we had a fire alarm and all had to go outside. That was a nice little break. And I had a full lunch break, which I went outside for as well.

I write the next part while thinking a lot about our friends and family in the US still navigating the challenges of COVID, and, now of course, wrestling with the murder of George Floyd and the convulsions of pain and anger that followed. I am still processing this, and may write more later.

We also took a train trip to Lund yesterday. We walked around, had sushi, then had ice cream. Overall, a really nice outing.

Back in the USA

So, I got back to the US on May 9, after some serious airline adventures. I had an IcelandAir ticket that got cancelled. When I called, they said I needed to call back 48 hrs before the original flight. I did this, and ended up on a multi-leg route from Copenhagen to Amsterdam to Atlanta to Minneapolis. At each leg, I had to re-affirm my valid reason for travel. When we got to Atlanta, we had to stay on the plane and wait for the CDC to come on and take our temps while getting a health disclosure.

I am supposed to self-quarantine for 2 weeks, but we have to move stuff out of a house, pack a shipping crate to Sweden, ship bikes to Sweden, close on the house, pack clothes for moving, and get everybody on another flight all inside of 2 weeks. So, we will see how that goes.

The biggest bummer is that due to COVID and quarantine, I can’t really see the people that I miss (other than my family – who are the most important!) for final farewells! I am sad about that!

So Swedish

So, this was the hot lunch at work the other day:

A fish fillet, curried potatoes, peas, and a sour cream/creme fresh/dill sauce that Jen makes all the time. What I thought was interesting is that the dill sauce was really salty. I think you have been making it wrong @jennifer! ;-). Kidding – I didn’t like it that salty – it was a bit too much.

Donuts

Yeah, so I am not really proud of this, but I had donuts for breakfast this morning. I went to poor the milk for my coffee and it came out in lumps. Needed milk (what I get for going into the office to enjoy the free coffee there). At the store, there was your basic bakery cabinet with some donuts. I was weak. Donuts came home with me.

So, managed expectations for grocery store donuts aside, the sugar raised one was actually quite good. Very light and airy. The chocolate one … there is a weird taste to lots of Swedish chocolate to me (at least much of what I have had). I don’t think it is bad, just weird. So, I did not enjoy the chocolate one as much. I have not seen anything like a fancy donut place here, like a Bogarts.

A COVID Math Thought

I am interested that COVID-19 has made people learn about logarithmic graphs. But I suspect that they are not well understood. And sometimes, a linear graph tells you something too. For example, this is a log graph of COVID-19 by country.

The US is at the top of the pack, but it seems like we’re all around the same. That is the thing about log scales – we can cram wildly different magnitudes on a single visual, but it can really hide relative magnitude. Here is the same thing on a linear scale:

Now we can see that the US is far, FAR more infected than any other country. It’s not a function of population – China is way bigger, and the rate of spread is basically the same in any given population. And this is in the context of terrible testing.

Anyway, sometimes log scales are useful, and sometimes linear scales are useful. Above images from 91-DIVOC.

Hardware Stores (and masks)

Yes, I have abandoned the “day count”. There’s a lot of them now (days) and they are starting to be a reminder of how long I have been away from the fam. Speaking of the fam, I have a ticket to go to the US on May 9, spend 2 weeks there getting ready for our move (since the house sold) and then we all come to Sweden on May 23. Hopefully. If the planes are flying.

Anyway, in order to prep for this (essential) travel, I needed to get set up with some kind of mask, both for myself and others. I looked all around for where some might be, and ended up finding hardware stores. So I went to one today. Swedol is a really big hardware store. It is kind of like a Northern Tool (for those in the upper mid-west). It was clean, had a huge selection of tools and stuff, and was nicely organized. It looked like all the tools were high-end brands, but seemed pretty reasonably priced. It was outside of the center of town, in a more industrial-y area, but it was still a short bike ride. Basically everything is a short bike ride here. I took some snaps of Swedol.

I found the masks, but they only had one kind of lightweight FFP2 or FFP3 mask left, and they were valved. Valved masks are more comfortable for the wearer because they let the moisture from your breath escape while blocking particles from entering. BUT, they do nothing to protect others from you as your (basically unfiltered) breath goes right out. Then I realized I was in a hardware store, and thought, “hell, I can MacGyver something here”. So I got some FFP3 filter inserts and some white electrical tape. I can tape over the valve, or tape an insert over the valve. I can also use the insert inside a t-shirt mask (which might be more comfortable). In any case, I think I am OK, and here is my Swedol haul:

Now I just hope the planes are flying.

Dumplings!

You know when somebody tells you about a “hole in the wall” place? Well, check this out! This is Fengssons (yes, a fun Swed-ification of a Chinese name). And it is down that cellar entrance.

Inside is a tiny little Chinese dumpling joint:

And, OMFG, those dumplings were good! Not just “good for Sweden” (which is how I have to qualify lots of food here), but legit good. Yum!

Day 41

Whew! Day 41 already? Today would be Hilary’s spring MYS concert, save for the COVID effect.

What’s new? I signed up for, and figured out how to use, the Volvo car sharing program called M (link). I don’t know why it’s called “M”. I think that is a dumb name. But, it is an excellent service. For what is about $20 a month, I can go check out a Volvo from any (large) number of stations all over the place. There’s a time and distance charge, but fuel and insurance is all included. So, if we don’t drive much (and with bikes and trains, we won’t) then this is a much cheaper way to have the use of a car without all the headache and cost of actually owning one. Anyway, I drove around the countryside for a bit. I have come to the conclusion that, aside from the sea and the odd castle, Skåne is a LOT like Minnesota. Flat. Farms. Patches of mixed deciduous and pine forests.

What else? I ate out yesterday at the hotel restaurant (finally – I have been here for 41 days!). It is pretty fancy and had a nice 3 course pris fixe menu. The dessert would have been Jen’s fave – lemon curd, with rhubarb sauce, Madelines, and merengue crumbles. All her favorite things! I made do … ;-).

Today is markedly different, as I am trying Tacopaj (pronounced “taco pie”) from the frozen cabinet at the ICA. Oh, I checked out the ICA Nära by the hotel. It’s a lot like the Widmers in Mac Groveland. Anyway, Tacopaj is about what you would expect from the freezer cabinet and cooked in your hotel microwave.

Also, the chef dude on the front looks like Neal Luschen.

Day 35

Not too much to talk about today. Mostly worked on a presentation for work.

And Hilary and I got the internet working in the condo. You may recall that I am in Sweden. So, had an epic 3-hour troubleshooting session 3-way between Hilary acting as my eyes and fingers in St Paul, and Comcast whom I was doing tech support chatting with, and me brokering it all from Sweden. I’m guessing the Tech Support guy was in India. But, the Comcast guy stuck with it the whole time, as did Hilary. So, took a lot of grit all around, but there is working internet and wifi in the condo! Woohoo!

Also, people talk a lot about how bad Swedish beer is, but the craft brewing craze is finally hitting here, and this one is quite good!