apel: (i knew it)
Today I've been looking at some anthropological research. It was fun, so I thought I'd share some thoughts and links here.

We're all aware of cultural stereotypes: the French smell of garlic, Americans are loud, Indians are ambitious etc. The party line in polite society is that these stereotypes are bad. And it's true that they can jeopardise relationships with people before we've even met them. On the other hand, there are definitely differences between countries' cultures that you become aware of if you travel to these countries or meet people from them.

A Dutch academic, Geert Hofstede, has developed a five-dimensional model for figuring out and playing with cultural trends in different countries. The five dimensions are:

Power Distance: How unequally people lower on the totem pole expect to be treated.
Individualism: Favouring individual rights and privileges over loyalty to community.
Masculinity: Assertiveness among males, and to a lesser extent females.
Uncertainty Avoidance: To what extent people are comfortable with uncertainty, ambiguity and inconsistencies.
Long-Term Orientation: Thrift and perseverance are long-term strategies, meeting social obligations, saving face and respecting tradition are short-term strategies.

You can look at the values for some interesting countries:
Sweden
US
UK
Netherlands

I for one have become much more aware of how I'm shaped by Swedish culture since leaving Sweden. That's part of the fish-becoming-aware-of-water dynamic of leaving your native culture. I'm sure others who have made similar journeys have noticed these things too.

That's where the subject of this entry comes in. First, if the words "The King" makes you think of Elvis Presley, you likely grew up in the US. If you automatically want to substitute it with "The Queen", it's possible that you're from the UK. If, on the other hand, your thoughts went to stamps, you might very well be Swedish or Norwegian or one of the other countries that have a male monarch.

Secondly, being Swedish, I was of course referring to the Swedish king, Carl XVI Gustav. I don't know if he does dishes but I wouldn't be the least surprised if he at least rinsed out his coffee cup. Egalitarianism and personal responsibility are traits that figure heavily among Swedish people.

In fact many Swedes have a hard time with the idea that they'd hire somebody to clean their house because of the combination of these two traits. Personally, I don't have a problem with it, provided that the cleaning staff are paid a living wage and treated like people. But even given that, some Swedes would be very uncomfortable with the implied inequality in getting somebody else to clean up their personal mess.
apel: (sweden)
I went to the Swedish embassy to renew my passport today. It took almost ten minutes, including waiting and taking a photo. The embassy clerk was wondering why I wanted a new passport when the current one doesn't run out till 2009 so I had to explain that I was going to get a three-year-long visa stamped in it.

My signature was too short on the first attempt so I had to make it longer. It has to be at least 2 cm long.

Nowadays they don't want too see an ear on passport photos anymore. I think I only had one passport with that type of photo. They do the deer-in-headlights straight-on thing instead. My new photo looks much better than the old one. This will not surprise anybody who has seen the photo in my current passport.

It will take about a week for my new passport to arrive. They'll mail me when it does. I have to go back to the embassy to pick it up then.

Afterwards I went to the Swedish shop and bought lots of candy. Now I'm tired. I need to bleach my hair and look for more documentation. Oh, and chase Nucsoft.
apel: (attention)
 TitleQuantityPriceSum


Album

Spandau Ballet - Best Of - Centenary Collection

1

€ 8.95

€ 8.95


Album

Sinatra Frank - My Way - The Best Of Frank Sinatra (2CD)

1

€ 8.95

€ 8.95


Album

Ultravox - Best Of Ultravox

1

€ 5.95

€ 5.95


Album

Uno & Freda - Samling

1

€ 8.95

€ 8.95

Album

Scocco Mauro - La Dolce Vita - Det Bästa 1982-2003

1

€ 12.95

€ 12.95

Album

Dahlgren Eva - Ung Och Stolt

1

€ 4.95

€ 4.95

Album

Darin - Darin

1

€ 12.95

€ 12.95

Album

Carola - Carola Jul

1

€ 4.95

€ 4.95


What is charming is how they haven't quite got the multi-linguality right. If you choose EU as your "home country" you get a site in English. Well, mostly anyway. Every now and then some text will be in another language. The privacy notice is in German, the cross-sell message at the bottom of the shopping cart is in Danish and the order confirmation page says:
ORDER CONFIRMATION - STEP 3 OUT OF 3
DIN BESTÄLLNING ÄR MOTTAGEN EN ORDERBEKRÄFTELSE HAR SKICKATS TILL DIN REGISTRERADE E-POSTADRESS.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR ORDER.
Very charming, slightly disconcerting. Oh, and don't look at the code. Apparently they haven't quite understood that you can separate content from presentation using this newfangled CSS thing.
apel: (sweden)
I've been procrastinating by doing OK Cupid tests. This one I just had to report the result of.
Swedish meatball meme )
apel: (sweden)
I've copied the entries from Linköping from my holiday diary to LJ. They start with my arrival in the youth hostel. From there you can use the Next button to navigate through those days.

I'm Back

Sep. 3rd, 2006 10:39 pm
apel: (sweden)
No time for LJ tonight. Maybe tomorrow. It's been good. Thanks for all the well wishes.

Aug. 30th, 2006 07:30 am
apel: (sweden)
I met Hans at his office. He showed me how to get to Uvberget on a map and then we set off, each in our own car with him leading the way. It didn't take more than twenty minutes or so to drive to Slattefors, between Sturefors and Landeryd on the river Stångån. There's a small water power plant there and some locks on Kinda Kanal.

Trying to remember how to, I managed to enter the way point into my GPS. I don't think I've used the unit for years. Hans had been in the area before so he led the way. Following the GPS and the map we found Uvberget without problems. The cache itself didn't present any problems either. Once you've found a few caches you have a pretty good idea of what sort of nooks and crannies to look for. The cache was in the first suspicious-looking hole under a rock that we looked in.

Having found the cache, we sat down for the traditional caching picnic while we looked through the treasures and wrote in the log book. Hans had brought tea and Maryland cookies and I contributed some Cloetta kexchoklad.

Aug. 29th, 2006 11:05 pm
apel: (sweden)
This morning I overslept so I got off to a rather disorganised start. But I was only a few minutes late to meet Linus outside his office in Mjärdevi. We went to the restaurant at the new skating rink, Cloetta Center, at the north-eastern edge of town.

The food was not bad but the conversation was the main attraction as far as I was concerned. We talked about all kinds of things, his work on UML, Roombas, plans for the future, the Öresunds Bridge and so on.

It was wonderful to catch up with Linus after all these years. Last time we met was in 2001, I think, when I was still working at Organic. He was consulting in Boreham, north of London, then. Now he's back to working in Linköping, our old university town.

After lunch we drove back to Mjärdevi to have an ice cream and talk some more. Before we knew it, it was nearly 3 pm, and time for me to head to Hans' office, a km down the road. I left Linus feeling, again, that reconnecting face to face with old friends was definitely the right choice of holiday.

Aug. 29th, 2006 09:45 pm
apel: (sweden)
After my meal in Kårallen I set about exploring the Valla campus some more. It's grown a lot since I last visited. Several new buildings have been added to the southern end. It's still all strung out along a central axis so it's easy to find things but the distances we used to moan about have become even greater. I would think that the whole campus is now about 3 km long.

I thought that visiting campus would bring up all kinds of feelings for me but mostly I just found myself nodding as the memories came back.

This is the hillside where we planted spring bulbs in the shape of a smiley, these were the tables we used to study at in the computer science programme, these were the endless corridors I used to trudge through and so on. Many details have changed but the essence stays the same.

Aug. 29th, 2006 09:30 pm
apel: (sweden)
Today has been a day of being social. First I met Linus Tolke for lunch and then I went geo caching with The Pink Unicorn, aka [livejournal.com profile] duarvaddulaser or Hans Persson.

Yesterday evening was also a time of being social with people I have, in most cases, not seen since 1999 or earlier.

But I left off the narrative on Valla Campus. From there I went back to the youth hostel to rest and to give the weather a chance to reconsider its behaviour. This strategy worked out very nicely because I was rested and the sun was shining when I set out for Slaka and Lambohov.

I noodled around on the southern outskirts of town for about two hours. For most of that time the light was beautiful, clear and feather light in a way that it never is in the UK. Among the photos I took I have high hopes for the stone ring and the pretty, pink church in Slaka.

I still hadn't been able to get hold of Mange but in my last voicemail to him I'd said that since we could get together either Monday or Tuesday evening, I was going to show up at his place around seven and hope I'd catch him then. So at seven I was back at the car and headed north to Ryd.

As luck would have it, I caught Mange just as he was putting on his shoes to go running. A swift change of plans and some messages in I]M later and we drove downtown to meet !Calle. We had a chatty dinner at a TexMex place that used to be called Normandie when I lived in Linköping. The evening ended at Steve's Coffee with apple cake with custard sauce. I'm really glad I decided to just show up at Mange's.

Aug. 28th, 2006 01:50 pm
apel: (sweden)
I'm having meat balls with potatoes, brown sauce and lingon jam in the student restaurant.

It's bright and airy with a high ceiling, wooden floors and walls. It's very late for lunch so only a few students and faculty sit here now. When it's full it gets very loud here. Now I only hear a few high, clear Swedish voices. Some of them speak English with an atrocious accent.

My first stop for the day was Gamla Linköping. It's a photographer's dream. Everything is period and cars are not allowed.

Walking around there I was again struck by the relationship the Swedes have with wood. We just can't get enough of the stuff. Just saying the word, trä, gives us a warm, fuzzy feeling. If we could, we would surround ourselves only with smooth, warm, unpainted wood and some pure cotton fabrics in white and blue for warmth.

We tolerate metal in small amounts when wood really wouldn't work. Push bikes are an example. We cannot say plast, the Swedish word for plastic, without sneering and pulling a disgusted face. Concrete just makes us depressed.

To make a Swedish person happy, just give us a smooth, fragrant, juniper wood butter knife and watch us sniff it and rub it with a smile. A juniper butter knife! What pure, innocent delight.

Aug. 28th, 2006 08:55 am
apel: (sweden)
The plan for today is to do some sight seeing. Gamla Linköping is my first stop. It's an open air museum with old buildings from the town centre of Linköping. There are flats and shops in the wooden buildings.

I also want to go to campus and have a look around. It's changed a lot since I started uni there back in 1985. Lambohov and Slaka are also on my list of must-see places. If there is time, I was thinking of taking in a lovely park in town, Trädgårdsföreningen.

I'm not sure about the evening. Mange didn't call me back yesterday. I think I'll try calling him some time during the day. I'm not 100% sure that my mobile is reachable.

Aug. 28th, 2006 08:20 am
apel: (sweden)
Yesterday I went shopping in the afternoon. First I went to Åhlens and got most of the necessities, e.g. a towel. Then I found an Italian restaurant where I had a pizza for lunch.

Linköping town centre is not much fun on Sundays because very few shops are open. It's mostly just Åhlens. Not many people were around in the rain.

As I was walking down Storgatan I heard music behind me. The percussion part of a student orchestra came marching down the hill from the castle and past the statue of Folke Filbyter. I don't know why they were playing and marching in the rain but they certainly cheered me up.

After lunch I drove out to Tornby. Tornby used to be a purely industrial area but then Ikea built their store out there. Then some other discount retailers opened shops there to and eventually Ikea built a mall next to their store, Ikanohuset. That's where I went.

On the way I made a slight detour. A good thing about a town of L's size is that if you get lost, you don't stay lost for long. Within minutes a familiar landmark turns up and you're found again.

At Ikano I went on a bit of a shopping spree. It was so nice to walk around clothes shops with lots of clothes in colours I like. Most clothes were not black! They were pink, blue, green, brown, purple... My colour-starved self rejoiced. I was particularly happy to see all the blue clothes.

In the end I bought a blue sweatshirt hoodie and two blue scarves as well as two white tops and a pair of brown trousers. Clothes are cheap in Sweden.

I was tired from spending all that money so when I got back to the youth hostel I spent the evening reading and painting my finger nails.

Aug. 27th, 2006 11:37 am
apel: (sweden)
I'm so relieved. The nurse at the national health information service said that the spots were almost certainly a reaction to the antibiotics. None of the worst case scenarios I played out in my mind are going to happen.

With renewed energy I've called Hans, Mange and Linus. Hans and I decide to postpone the geo caching till Tuesday afternoon because of the bad weather.

Mange wasn't awake so I left a voicemail for him, asking him to call me back.

Linus and I decided to meet for lunch on Tuesday. He was going to come up with a restaurant, he said.

It's really raining with intent now. But I have some shopping to do and I also want to have lunch somewhere. The plan is to walk over to Åhlens and if I don't find what I'm looking for there, I'll move on to the big shopping centre in Tornby.

Aug. 27th, 2006 10:15 am
apel: (sweden)
It's raining and thundering outside. I doubt that the Pink Unicorn will want to go geo caching. We may postpone it till Tuesday afternoon instead. I should call him.

But I think I'll call the national health service first to talk about my spots. They've gotten worse during the night. They've spread and they are denser in the areas that were covered since before.

Aug. 26th, 2006 11:45 pm
apel: (sweden)
I'm in the youth hostel in L. Physically I'm not great. My stomach is distended from all the water I've been drinking and I've got red spots on my chest and back.

I'm hoping that the spots are a reaction to the anti biotics because in that case they'll go away by themselves now that I've run out. The water retention will likely sort itself out during the night. I'm still thirsty and still drinking, obeying my body's signals.

I've had a shower. That made me feel much better. Unfortunately I discovered that I should have brought a towel. Luckily there was a tea towel here that I could use. But tomorrow I'm going to buy a towel.

The plan for tomorrow, apart from buying a towel is to find a geo cache with an old friend of mine, The Pink Unicorn. I need to call him first thing tomorrow and arrange where to meet.

I texted another friend, Mange, to tell him that I had arrived safe and sound in L. I was hoping he'd tell the people in Mötet because we were planning a little get together on Monday or Tuesday evening. He hasn't responded which makes me wonder a bit. I guess I'll call him tomorrow or on Monday.

I was also thinking of calling a guy who started at the institute of technology at the same time as me. It could be fun to have lunch together.

Originally I hadn't planned this to be such a social holiday. It's very different from my usual holidays. But now I'm excited about meeting all these nice people from the past.

Off We Go

Aug. 26th, 2006 11:09 am
apel: (sweden)
I'm off to Sweden. Take care, all of you.
apel: (sweden)
Yesterday was no fun at all. I felt icky in all possible ways. Some of that was because I hadn't slept enough the night before but most of it was simply being ill from the UTI. Today was much better but now my throat is sore. I'm getting the distinct impression that my body doesn't want me to go to Sweden. It has a point but I'm going anyway. So there.
apel: (attention)
It's been by turns raining, hailing and thundering here today so my gardening plans were scuppered. Luckily it's cleared up a little now in the evening so I was able to get the plants I bought from the car and put them in the garden. There are three white Campanula carpatica, a pink begonia and a pink chrysanthemum. They're still in their pots and will stay there until next weekend.

Instead I've been pottering around, doing chores and stuff like that. Also spent quite a bit being social online. That's always nice.

The weather is turning chilly and it seems that summer is over for this year. I'm even pessimistic enough that I bought two long-sleeved shirts at boden.co.uk. According to the forecast it's going to rain more tomorrow, on Wednesday and Thursday. Have I said lately that I'm not overly keen on rain? I know we need it but I still don't like it. Bring back the hot weather of July, I say.

I'm not really looking forward to work tomorrow. It's getting really tedious with the constant schedule wrangling. Worst of all is that I'm made out to be the bad guy when the real problem is that my employer doesn't put its money where its mouth is. For now I'm getting better at setting boundaries but I'm not happy.

My holiday is fast approaching. That is something I'm looking forward to. I'm not expecting great weather but it's going to be very interesting to see all those places I used to frequent many years ago. Next weekend is the last weekend before the holiday. As luck would have it I have two dentist appointments that week so I'm working from home on both Monday and Friday. That's incredibly handy because the two hours plus I'd normally spend on the tube, I can instead devote to laundry and packing. I just hope that the overly zealous restrictions on hand luggage are lifted by then. How am I supposed to survive a three-hour flight without a book?
apel: (Default)
apel
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