Saturday, 30 November 2013

Christmas market - Konstfack

The art school Konstfack has its Christmas market tomorrow too, if you know open-minded people that would not mind getting a dildo of porcelain, an egg cup with sperms drawn on it, a mat for each for the four feet of a chair or loves various prints on various materials - a whale that is a submarine just like a snail carries a house with it, unique postcards or a reversed star map, that points out the most dark places in Stockholm city where stars can be observed from.
I loved the idea of entering a gift.
One of the artists - from what I found out, the items sold are not part of any university project but are made on the students' spare time - had extracted parts of a computer and a radio, air brush-painted it and glued it on a piece of colourful wood, which from a bird perspective looked like a living room (!). That was really cool, but was hard to document with a picture.

Christmas market - Gamla stan

Here, I got two perfect Christmas gifts - and a very tasty mustard and liquid raspberry honey for myself. The salesman told me that he liked satire, and hence called his honey jars things like "The horror of the doctors" and "Politician. Like a grater for your throat". I also tasted a strawberry jam with roses (very rosy) and a cheese with whisky (very creamy and with a rather strong flavour).

On this side of the Christmas tree, there is a fountain made of rock that looks like a monument which contains no water wintertime and is owned by a local enterprise, which decided to use it as a café (well, they sold cinnamon buns and gingerbread from it, one could not enter the fountain) this time. The fountain used to be a well, my local expert friend Ilo says, and the water from the fountain summertime is still ready to drink.

Christmas market - Kungsträdgården

Cheeses, charcuteries, confecture and wool clothes befriend each other via garlands and lovely smells. Nearby there are carousels and an elegant ice skating park around a statue. So far, this place in the middle of Stockholm is not very crowded (but probably will be, as the market lasts almost till Christmas eve)-  and the enterprise that runs this event seems to have various salesmen every year, unlike the market in Gamla stan, my friend says.

Friday, 29 November 2013

And suddenly I was inside an intergalactic shop

Inside the museum where I am guiding groups from time to time, there are several enterprises and other juridical forms of economic activity. One of the ladies in my group saw a lady she knew inside one of this offices and suddenly, my guided group including me slipped inside it. This office in paticular is working with inspiration for kids and with activities for unemployed people, and one of the rooms was an intergalactic shop. An alien visiting had forgotten its very assymetric, knitted glove with seven fingers, there were many jars containing pure human brains, antimatter, spaceship wax polish and glasses for customers with three eyes.

Survival of the fittest

Who does not love beautiful photos of anumals and nature, especially when flickering through a magazine and not having had to climb up a mountain and wait for days for the right moment?
This is the city version of the same thing.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Warmth of a Blog (mixed perspective of reader-writer-reader)

Why read any blog at all? It is not peer-reviewed so I am my own editor, publisher and adviser and the material I write is not officially supported by any government or any enterprise. Not even every individual agrees with me about everything that I bring up to discussion.

At times blogging can be seen as a monologue, at times as therapy, at times a cry out in cyber space to add a droplet to the story of how it is to be a part of society as it is here where I am, today. At times it is very mundane, at times it is an opening into a world which otherwise can be accessed only with great effort - a war zone as much as the inner self of a reader. I am in fact amazed by the fact that a blogger I stumbled upon writes so openly about things like... squeezing her pimples out. To write this describing sentence, I myself have to bring out a lot of self-control to not erase it; I feel disgust. Another blog is written by a mother that openheartedly pours everything out (it is splendedly written) and it really makes me wonder how her daughter (now six years old) will react when she is big enough to take interest in what her mother felt at the time and chose to show in public blogwise. But, in a way, it shows what letting go of certain limits and censure, official as well as private, means. We can write about exactly what we want and share it, put up as naked photos of ourselves as we want and get to know people we might never physically meet in our lifes, but care for them and be intrigued by them just as we are intrigued by characters in a popular TV-show. We are curious about each other, but we are sometimes also very shy. And what could help better than writing anything the soul pleases, post it, and not knowing who and how many people will be reading it to avoid judging looks or frowns of disagreement (or agreement, because that could be embarassing too)!

An essential part of a blog is communication. Many times a blog post itself is not that interesting at all, but the comments to the post are. People share, reflect, scream and murmur. And me as a writer, I blush and get confused and my heart pounds when I get a comment, because I am not always sure how to reply, sometimes because I wonder why that post in particular is so important that it made a reader to take the time to fill in a name and to communicate with me. Some of you readers have been commenting very wisely, so a big thank you for that even if I did not reply! Compliments are just as hard to handle, and I really should find a way for answering questions.

So you readers that I do not see behind the screens, a big thank you for following this blog.


Design, and you know, functionality

This is a very cute and environmentally friendly bag. It is made of wool, probably laser cut, has wooden handles, looks like it comes from a futuristic movie and is designed by former Harvard students. Can it get better?

Yes, it can.

I personally do not own anything that looks like the shape of this bag, and it is a bit tricky to hang on my shoulder. It did came with a handle which could be origami-ed together, but I decided that this is a non-keeper. It is very, very cute, but points out at what I think is a big problem in fashion today: functionality.

We spend our lifes wearing uncomfortable shoes unless we are scouts or are doing sports. The average beautiful shoe causes a pain in at least one muscle, presses too hard on at least one nerve and several years later we are forced to wear nothing but comfortable, but also ugly, shoes recommended by our doctors. Or take an evening dress with an open back which is supposed to be open - women with a need to support something in particular on their front that comes in pairs will have everything but a pleasant evening. Or, on a scale, how comfortable is a wedding dress? I am exaggerating a bit of course, but the bride usually needs help from several people to carry the back of her dress in the big and airy aisle of a church. Then, imagine a narrower space.

Inside a second hand shoe shop I found a very nice pair of Dior shoes which I could not take a step in - they were my size, but they kept falling off. The owner of the shop, an elderly lady, first was joking about that wearing these shoes, I am not supposed to take more steps than entering a taxi and posing in front of a camera, but then went on explaining that she herself was a trained seamstress and that among the young people she met, everybody who wanted to design clothes had firstly a very poor knowledge of what all the details in the shoe and clothes' world were called, and then just wanted to design things, without paying attention to functionality. So that is what I wonder about - they do exist, the functional clothes and shoes and much else - a colleague wore high heels at work for eight hours every day an entire summer without hurting feet - but why are they hiding so much? Display them, make ads about them, spread them to every shop and make them cheap. Thank you!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Landscape and subway integrated

Outside of the subway station Masmo, this delightfulness can be found. Not a soul around and the creation litterally breathes the proudness of the architects' vision for this place. A blue-green light adds to the mystery of the mountain, and going into the subway is a bit like going into some unknown and discrete animal's cave, except for that the outdoor magic stops to exist at the entrance, which is guarded by common, grey materials like concrete.
A closeup: this part in particular is grey too, but has a grndiousness about it that could just as well be composing one of those modern photographies hanging at a museum, suggesting a deeper meaning of the loneliness between humans.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Oh, right, we have customers

This thai restaurant continues the decoration theme from the previous post, except for the blinging lights being diluted with real fishponds with real fish under miniature bridges and the Christmas songs were replaced with first Jamaican music, then with recorded thunder (!) with the lights beings turned of in accordance with the sound. The waiters were rather bored but kind, and the same thing can be said about the food - hence no names and no recommendations, but still a nice experience.

Monday, 25 November 2013

NK Stockholm vs Flower shop in Rönninge

Nordiska Kompaniet (known as NK) at Hamngatan are famous for their Christmas decorations and decorations of their windows in general, since it is changes frequently and things often move, like the small modern santa above. It is cleverly planned - there is education for decorating windows in particular! - but I think that last year a much smaller shop in the subrurb Rönninge won the exhibition competition. A friend even thought that the photo below was photoshopped. It is not! No picture on this blog is, unless I point it out.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

This Weekend... technically an end of the week, but there have been more activities than sleep. The catapult above was constructed during a holiday course for kids,

I made the first sushi in my life,
and I got to hang out with so many people that I might not remember all of them. I also had some time over for illness, a bisarre and involuntary involvement in a love story and incredible timing when meeting with friends randomly one after another on my way to a third friend.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Teaching teachers :)

I was awarded with a Mumin cup and Karl Fazer chocolate candy - just like everybody else that was teaching these Finno-Swedish teachers about "new" research within the field of energy, solar cells in my case.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Chili night

I am split between fascination and questioning the use of this interior detail. Found at a party with chili theme:-) 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Love on the go

"At this place [Odenplan, in front of the traditional restaurant Tranan] Jonas and Helena met 23 December 1999. Now they are married and have two children". This is a piece that is just intergrated into thepavement, without any additionnal information, which is of course as beautiful as it is anonymous (which might be the point, because many relations are). I shall try to find out more!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Don't judge the book by its cover - or perhaps do

"Drunk chicken" (yes, that is the correct title) is the first book about Cuban cooking that has been translated to Swedish. It is a tribute to life, food, culture and Cuban life with a zest of politics - all from a warm, personal Cuban perspective. In short, Cubans love food and love having papaw for breakfast.   

"A mysterius friendship" is the first book by Yoko Ogawa (or, is it would be said in Japanese style: Ogawa Yoko) that has been translated to Swedish, too. It is aboout mathematics and sports, foremost being a modern fragment of three generations' life. She is one of Japan's most modern authors, and I am happy to read about a reflection of everyday lifes in other cultures - it is like traveling and getting to know people, even if they may not have ever existed.

So the least common denominator for these authors' books is that they are translated to Swedish for the first time - which is special, in my opinion. A translation comes with so many decisions. Should this or that book be translated? Is it not better to start with the first book that the author wrote (which could be a twenty year old piece)? Who is going to do the translation to demonstrate the flow of the texts in the best of ways? The latter is interesting in particular, since when books are translated by different people at different times it makes the book breathe in a completely different way every time.

Another good idea when reading books to find out about other cultures are crime stories - I saw a nice list that a Swdish magazine called OmVärlden (both meaning "About the World" and "The Surrounding World") published which I should try to read. I have a nice goal, you see: to better get to know a different country, I shall not only be able to point it out on a map, but also be able to place it in a cultural context. My primary ambition is to be able to name two authors and two music groups from a country which I myself of course have read and listned to, and my friend Ilo also suggested that I should add two movies to this list. This does not mean that I will only listen to two random groups and randomly pick out an author, but will choose which ones I want to remember. Haruki Mukarami (I hope the spelling is correct) seems to be an interesting Japanese author candidate, for example. As for France, that seems to have spread a lot of culture around itself like a boiling pot, I met an author at a book fair there last year who said that he did not choose to become an author - being an author chose him - who seems to have written interesting texts, and having met an author makes it easier to relate to a culture, too.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Say hello to my student corridor :)

It can be confusing when I refer to my "student corridor", because student corridors look different in different countries. In Italy and the Netherlands, there could be dorms where two people that do not know each other from the start are living in one room (an Italian neighbour of mine, R., had a room mate who was mixing napalm for a hobby) and food is served in the common cantine. Here in Sweden, each of my fellow neighbours and I live in a small individual room with a bathroom of our own as well, but the kitchen is common, and that is where I wanted you to have a look. Above, for example, it is stated by another Italian neighbour, Paolo, that we are the best corridor. I am not so sure that this has been constant forever - we found typewritten protocols in a folder that stem back from meetings in the 1980's which stated that when people did not do their dishes, they would be punished by having their dishes placed in front of their doors. Some years later - they are still there, archived - people going on vacation started sending postcards to the corridor and the corridor got "fathers" (like a Santa Claus in comparison), one of them which I turned out to have met (!) in a completely different context. He was the one who wrote a secret e-mail address at the back of the kitchen clock which many of those who has lived here ever since (and who know about it) has access to, so in theory, one could be mailing hundreds of international people at one go and invite them for a reunion dinner.
The tall ugly cactus at the back was used as a target when shooting with plastic (but sharp) arrows during a surprise-birthday party. There other things are part of what is always left behind: plants (the roses are there on purpose though), food, useless or necessary stuff (like a web camera) that students can not always bring with them back home (and then some actually stay in Sweden and get married). One guy from Finland and his two friends stuffed an entire car with their belongings and that was enough; a girl from Switzerland and her friend (from a different corridor, though) had to go back and forth twice. 
I would say it looks cozy. And smells like international cooking, which involves masses of garlic.
A very nice calendar from Australia with Australian firemen shows who's turn it is to clean.
And here we are, representing many continents and countries! I am the horisontal girl. Or it is just a few of us, some people are abroad or work or are at parties. We know each other fairly well, which is a good thing. In some corridors, students are just like strangers and do not talk to each other - some are busy with their thesis and are much older than the other students, for example.

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Postcard War: Cute version

This adorable little thing from Germany was responded to with foldable poetry which I found at The Åland Islands:
Previous Postcard Wars: this one, and this one, and this one, of course.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Bye for now, Kalmar

Only 5.75 hours to go home by bus! Dawn being over long ago, it is almost as black and isolated on the countryside we are passing right now as in space. The small differences are gravity, that Ilo explains to me which songs she is listening to without letting me hear them (which is an innovative method) and that we see cars going in the other direction.

This visit reminded me of my summers as a schoolgirl, though it was freezing cold outdoors. We moved through the city on bikes, cooked pancakes for breakfast and laughed heaps. And, my arsenal for future post card wars is updated! 

Saturday, 16 November 2013

The city of Kalmar at the end of autumn

One can walk on beautiful roads (it does not take that long to walk from the airport),
enjoy the calmness of the town,
have some of the apples that the neighbours place in front of their houses for free,
be amazed by how cozy student apartments can be,
an prepare for tonight's cinema marathon! We are going to watch the films "Gravity" and "Prisoners" directly after each other.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Going South!

It is just as cold there as in Stockholm, so I am not leaving the country, but I will see you on Saturday!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Boring Process of not Learning

This photography comes from a seminar for Swedish teachers. Not every teacher is happy about how the information is presented during the mandatory seminars that they have to attend a few times per year (students get these days off, unless this happens on the weekend). Translated from above: this mandatory activity is suppressing and anasthetic for many teachers - as a participant said, "I wish I died under one of these days, because the transition between life and death would be so imperceptible".

So even teachers have to suffer from being teached in bad ways.

So what is a good way of etaching, or at least keep the interest up? Except for being dedicated to a subject, that is.

"Bending the rules" in a creative way, I would say:

1. I lost (did not find) the pointer in a classroom once, so I solved the problem by using a broom instead. The students were very happpy, and it turned out to be practical if I wanted to underline things, for obvious reasons.

2. My teacher in political sciences printed the power point presentation she was using and handed it out to us, but the text she had in it had blanks - we had to fill them in, which we could if we listened carefully.

3. I made my students raise different objects when voting "yes" or "no" instead of raising their hands. Totally ineffective, from all points of view, but that was the complicated questions' fault - and still was good in the sense that the students were interacting with me, eacher other and had fun.

4. Pedagogical power points. Enough said (I mean, make them understandable to read even if the teacher is not present. Be sparse with the colours and stacks of pictures).

5. Your own creative ways! As a student, you can always walk up to the teacher and ask him or her to make the teaching more intriguing by suggesting a few ways that would keep you awake. Using differently coloured white board pens could be such an easy thing. 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Vacation in Åland (political version)

Early yesterday morning, we, a retired crowd and a baby took the bus and then the boat (as one elder gentlemen was telling another elder gentlemen, an elderly gentle lady made a living on buying tax free cigarettes to people on what probably was this boat) to the island Eckerö in Åland to go to its capital Mariehamn later.

Political context: Åland is protected by Finland and stuff, but is a neutral self-ruling zone with a population that mainly speaks Swedish. Conventions, protocols, agreements and tractates state that Åland may absolutely not be used for military means, but such statements always come with exceptions. First of all, there are several maps and then, of course, to maintain the demilitarisation, one or two military ships have to cross its waters once needed. Sweden also happens to own a piece of land on one of Åland's islands - Märket - and that piece of land is demilitarised, too.

The capital Mariehamn is more long than wide (I like the Swedish word for its geographical looks, which is translated as land tongue), and was, as you shall see, very windy.

It was founded in 1861, when it was still part of the Russian empire, so the small village named Öfvernäs with 35 citizens got its name after tsar Aleksandr III's spouse Maria Aleksandrovna - the stone lady to the left. Up the stairs is the politicians' house. One of them, that is. Korea has its honorary consulate in the city and Russia and The Netherlands have their embassies here, too.

Proof! Windy. 11 m/s, which is not very common, though.
At the port on the other side, there is the ship Pommern which is a museum which one can enter - summertime, of course.

And just next to it is the maritime museum.
Mandatory shopping! The Mumin soft drink tasted like liquid candy. The crazy cow dessert tasted like soft chocolate. I have not tasted the bag yet. 
The library has a very nice clock outdoors which looks like a yellow full-moon on the sky once it goes dark.
Shopping behind this man not expressively recommended unless you want to grab a hamburger.