Thursday, 31 December 2015

What happened in 2015 (and some 2016 plans)

Happy new year, everyone!

Summing up the past (very briefly) and planning ahead.

Experiences from 2015:

* I touched a meteorite. As far as I know, for the first time in my life.

* I visited Italy for the first time ever. Night train trip in June from Milan to Rome is by far one of my best experiences. It went from "oh, this could be so dangerous, should I be sleeping sitting on my wallet?" to "oh this is so much fun!"

* I went to Belgium and could in doing so fastforward the spring and summer - a trick I might come back to more often (that is also how I quickly got cured from having a cold)! Spring was late and non-existent in Sweden at the time.

* A publishing house, Queerlequin, gave me positive crisisism. I had written a love and sex story for a competition (uncommon love stories as a theme) and the good comments were that it is well-written and entertaining. The good part about the negative criticism was that I was aware of everything that was pointed out. I did after all write 46 pages in one month, including research and reading up to one book on this theme per day.

*a guy mistook me for a Muslim woman. That is how I for the first time in my life got to experience that special appreciating look because of the meaning of a scarf wrapped around my head.

* I got to play a computer game that is not yet released on the market! Its name starts on "Adventures."

*some other, really nice things happened as well. I will not write them here. I will keep them in my heart.

In 2016, I would like to:

¤ learn to play the harp

¤ [start] learn[ing] a new language

¤ go to a country I have not been to yet, like Greece or Croatia

¤ write an essay for an essay competition (topic is free and deadline is in March)

¤ maybe exhibit some of my art

¤ other cool stuff

On the world's behalf, in a longer prospective:

no more economic bubbles

☆ that more people make friends with people they usually do not hang out with

☆ a more serious treatment worldwide of nurses, that often get to meet patients more often than doctors and teachers, who get to teach 40 hours per week in parts of Chile (so they have no life left if they also are to plan lectures, correct assignments, set grades and be alive) or need guards in parts of Nigeria to be sure that no attack against school is made (which again proves how important education is). They are dealing with the future - kids! Give them an applause. And more money.

What did you do in 2015 that you will remember for a while ahead? Any plans for 2016 that you want to share?

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

(A somewhat rephrased) Phone conversation on Ethics

Me - calling the phone company that bills me monthly.
Phone lady - has a professional and warm voice. We talk about mundane bureaucracy stuff, and before we are about to finish the conversation, she asks with a loving voice: "is there anything else I can do for you?"

Me: yes, actually. I wonder if you have any offers on smartphones?
Lady: is there any particular features that you would like to have in the phone?
Me: I don't think any of the new phones do not have all the apps and functions I use. But most of all, kind of, I would like it to be sustainable.
Lady: like, you do not want it to break if you drop it on the floor?
Me: no, I want to make sure that all parts produced to make this phone are sustainably made.
Lady: you mean that you want to put components together to build your own phone?
Me: certainly not. I want to make sure that all the people who have been working with manufacturing all the components that eventually become a phone have gotten a fair pay and have been treated ethically. I want the phone to be ethically made.
Lady: I think I follow you...
Me: I never remember the name of the precious metal that is utvunnet from mining, but I have read that people are treated like slaves...
Lady: let me get back to you. (Pause of like three minutes.) To find out this, you can contact the manufacturer. I hope you find a phone that is... that way.

1. Coltan is the metal I could have had in mind (I recall there are more problematic metals). Known to some as a conflict mineral, coltan is a desired substance that exploits Congo. As for the slavery: read this Huffington-post article. Wikipedia also has an article on this, that is not completely reviewed.

As for other precious metals: 41 phones = 1 g of gold. (Source: Urban mining.)
This blog
claims that 1% of all phones are recycled. If you do not opt for a fairphone - please, at least recycle your old one. Some shops even offer you money for this.

There is one phone like this - Fairphone. To get one, you have to register your order about six months in advance and costs you like 5,000 SEK. Less than the latest brand of any phone, anyhow. One can also purchase a phone secondhand - then at least no new components have been produced.

3. A salesperson is instructed to not use negative words. I know, my friend worked at customer service. (But how come the lady did not know the term SUSTAINABLE???)

Monday, 28 December 2015

More hair styles!

It has worked out, it has, but with different ambition levels from day to day. Frequently asked questions: did you do this yourself, and, is that YOUR hair? The truth: a lady at work has suggested I should pop by for a braid or two. We never made our schedules match, so I had to come up with new hair inventions every morning - and then Ilo saved me a lot. And it is easy to forget how I used to look - here are three old posts with me having even LONGER hair.

Fishtail braid! This one I learned how to do myself.
Thank you to the student R who did my hair in seven minutes, between finished class and me running to a taxi (my colleagues were sitting there and calling me).
Original idea: "let's have a stray of disco silver in the pony tail". While in the making: "this works out perfectly! there is silver pretty much everywhere. OH, that is a lot of silver...But, the more silver, the merrier. Is this enough silver? Let me add hair spray to that."
This WAS awesome. It is like more hairpins than hair. No, kidding.
But it COULD have lasted longer.
It was asymmetrically unusual, to put it diplomatically.
 Well, I liked it. For a bit.
It made me look like a pope. Look at the shape of the cap.
Made by me. I am almost surprised I have not come up with the idea myself (I read about it in one of the books), but then everything seems simple once you know it. 
Seastar and Greek goddess combined. This is the day after the Star wars premiere, and technically, I was supposed to have Leia buns by my ears. There was no time, unfortunately. Made by Ilo.

Made by Louise. We freestyled a bit. Also, I love the fruit backdrop.

Louise and I did this bow together.
One of my favourites. Ilo made it all.

I could wear this every day.
Five-braid is the Swedish name. I loved this too. Thank you Ilo.
When I stopped thinking "this is so complicated" and just followed the instructions, voilà!.. "Hair pretzel" is the Swedsih name of this knot.

You could never suspect the beauty going on at the back when seen from the front:
Tada! The most complicated hairstyle so far. Again, a tribute to Ilo.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

My words from 2015, part II

Diakron and diachronic - something that happens over time. A variant of synchronic (for comparison), except that synchronism things happen at the same time.

Белугa (Russian) /huso huso (Latin) - a fish with three beards that can be the size of a human. Has the best caviar in the world, according to one of Sweden's most popular cookbooks.

Incunable/inkunabel - a book printed before 1st of January 1501. How cool! Not one of the hand-written ones, this is important.

Boswellism - a term for constant companion and observer that stems from an English book considered to be the best biography written in that language by James Boswell about Samuel Johnson. I was looking for an English term as elegant as the Swedish "to wallraff" before - this might be it.

Otolaryngology (pronounced oh/toe/lair/in/goll/oh/jee) is the oldest medical specialty in the United States. See more here.

Octogenerian - a person aged something inbetween 80 and 89.

Emulera - att efterlikna något. Datateknisk term.

Preses - ordförande

Luxation - almost like breaking a leg, but not.

Pintxos - a version of tapas.

Balkongflicka - term connected to honour killings.

Chatelain - like an unfolded swiss army knife, but less knife and more spoon. From the Victorian era.

UBO - ultimate business owner. The person who actually is the owner, who Telia people had a hard time finding in Uzbekistan.

Köfke - lamb paddies.

Diktator - door stopper. Never Heard it from anyone else but from a colleague though, and not even internet (!) could confirm this. Hm.

Dictablanda - Sapnish for "a soft dictature". (Welcome hyperventilation, welcome deep contemplation.)

Xylen - poisonous solution do dissolve paraffine and such. If breathed in by a pregnant woman, not good.

Vojvod - slavic leader.

Vänsläktas - be worse off.

Docility - well, judged from description, a person with this quality is easy to hang out with.

Slider(s) - mini burgers.

Sminka grisen - "putting makeup on the pig", or, as you could guess, making business look better than it is.

Ateljerista - a job that connects pedagogics, arts and research. Wow. This is one of those things one wants to have known earlier in life.

Saving clause: I might very well have learned or heard one or two of these word previously in life, but have forgotten it entirely.

Older lists:
2015, part I.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

The extra Christmas plate.

One of the best things I heard this year is that my friend E's mother always puts an additional plate on the Christmas table: in case anyone wants to join. If somebody does, E explains, they should feel like they were awaited all along - and not getting the feeling of intruding something, the way you do when the table is not set for you but the hosts hurries to get you a plate and a glass. No; it should all be there, as if you were expected.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Day 22 and day 23. And 24. And 25, and the blur. (Last part of living on an asylym's seekers' budget)

The thought crossed my mind that I should have started losing some weight, but in fact body was prepared to survive so I actually gained some.

I knew from before that there is a law on writing a last date on food, but that it lasts much longer. As a Swedish researcher said, when the clock strikes 24:00, bacteria does not jump in an make the product bad. A friend had tested the milk, and realised it is as fresh for an entire WEEK after the dated marked on it, and that more sour products last even longer. And I learned long ago that in a religion (keep forgetting which one, Amish?), furniture is designed so that food can be stored within and bought so that it always will last a year ahead. Eggs are bought in spring - that is when they last the longest. (And for the less advanced consumer, a month after the written date. Sugar does not even need a date, it is kind of eternal.) So, I took a chance and ate a one month (not opened) old kvarg (like yoghurt but more firm). Waited; will I have to call an ambulance? Survived.

Day 24: in the store, I discover a small, zero-flashy piece of paper that can give me discount on "mjölkkronan", which I had not heard of before. Poor for now, yes - but not unhuman to the farmers, I ask the lady at the counter what it is good for. Turns out, it is voluntary to pay. (More research shows that instead of 100 öre (1 crown) per liter milk that the farmers were promised, they only get 7 öre: I choose to pay.)

Earlier that day, I get invited to an introductory meeting on holding courses in Swedish with refugees, which I have volunteered for. The contact person and I write a few emails back and forth. The only meetups are available before 3 p.m. When most people are at work! How can I help, if the system is not adapted to this simple thing? A colleague hence suggests I should give courses in Swedish at SFI which has classes in evenings, and that I will even get paid for that. Well, I also volunteered to be part of the Red Cross, at a hospital, directing people right. The pressure of volunteers right now is so high, that I will not be contacted until January (in November, when this took place, it meant about 2.5 months ahead).

Day 25: I can have as much candy as I want at a conference, and at the second meeting that day, I get chocolate cake from the bakery Gateau (as I had requested weeks before - it is that kind of annual meeting when cake always is served). This is also the day when the Swedish government makes the decision to say stop to more refugees from crossing the borders. And a colleague and I chat for a bit, stare at each other and suddenly book a spontaneous trip to Copenhagen: prices are super good that day, and his friend agrees to pay my part due to my monetary condition.

Day 26: lunch is my breakfast. I have ceased to eat in the morning, so any food is so filling that afterwards, I am moving as if it is a few days left before giving birth. Then there is another confrence, with sandwiches for everyone. I then go to a food store to look at food as if I am in a museum (and from then on, always act more carefully in a shop compared to before). Simultaneously, I have a very good discussion with C. about how people who live like this feel. Answer is: gloomy. You CAN NOT plan to cook for a week ahead. You can basically not afford to think rationally; you are never given the possibility. And you think about money, and how long it will last, all the time. You can impossibly pay a little extra for organically grown food that is fairtrade certified; you can not afford it! And not eating properly affects EVERYTHING. Health, joy, you name it. And you miss out many of the news, including your rights, if you can not read local newspapers, meaning you will be relying on living sources you trust. Also: Swedish infrastructure is adapted to people having cars. Two friends brought a sofa to the subway station, and the speakers informed them right away that this is not done. "Crammed" reasons. Even bikes are not allowed. Why? Don't even try blaming it on rush hours. Buggies are thrice as big and ok to bring, with or without child in it.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Alternative postcards

Tired of antropomorph postcards, with bears and deers wearing knitted sweaters or a short man with a long beard watching a star fall on a village (which technically is super dangerous)? Here are four (or 1.5, depending on how one counts it) more neutral variants.
No Christmas tree in sight.
My friend Marie made the red card: buttons as decorations. Good if you want to recycle (reuse) left-over buttons and if you are tired of glitter. To the right: at least more true than a fat Santa Claus trying to squeeze into a chimney.
Not that much of an alternative, but I fell for this one as the letters "G O D" (which means "tasty" or "nice" in Swedish) form the flames of the candle (which also are a word, 'Christmas'), so elegantly. 
A WOODEN postcard! With stars to take out and use as decorations if you wish.
And the perhaps best solution: the name of every thing you like about Christmas! 

Friday, 18 December 2015

Dear students of mine, love upon love upon love

I will miss you too. A lot. And OF COURSE I notice all the hearts. They are unescapable.

Some hearts were expressed in words.

I got some Christmas gifts as well.
And the hearts kept coming - this one with a compliment on how good this exam was. Thank you :)
And then this happened yesterday: my students blindfolded me. (My natural reaction: ok. Just take a picture. Little did I know that another student was standing next to me doing thumbs up.)
And then I got to go inside our classroom.
To my big surprise, they sang a song with a text they had written themselves!
And I got this big card.
With very kind words.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Pre-Christmas in Copenhagen

I still think very warmly of this weekend. Despite me coughing my lungs off, it was awesome. 
The whole city has roads running through like veins of different times. At least that is how it feels when I think back. The building would then be islets of history, tastefully placed around like shimmering pearls.
The shadow on me is the shadow of numerous tourists. There is a BUS that goes directly (as far as possible) to this place. The little mermaid is called Lille havsfrue in Danish.
I was told that "Christiania is cozy". That is the place where drugs are sold and photos are forbidden, as drugs are still illegal. We went there and I had the guts to ask of the local Christmas market meant a Drugs Christmas Market. Turns out, no.
 Selfie with an old phone outside of Christiania.
At Christiania. There are party houses heavy with graffiti and gardens with relatively cute houses at once. Place has existed for 47 years now and if you candidate for moving in, it is up to your neighbours to decide whether you may or may not.
Nyhavn. Amsterdam light, so to speak.
Juan and Nerea would stop at every corner to make themselves immortal on camera. Juan tried to look like it was not freezing, quite successfully.
I deadly wanted to visit the royal library - a must for me in any new city. Ladies and gentlemen,  the map is WRONG. Too few buildings are marked on it. We had to ask five times to navigate through yards and valves. I ran the remaining few hundred meters through the beautiful and calm park in front of what obviously was the library, but turned out to be a Jewish museum and of course closed. Which in the end was not true; the library consists of two parts - an old an one new. This was the old part, with an exhibition that actually was closed for the day. But the black cool front was open!
Do you see the statues in the windows?
Part of another Christmas market.
Danish pastry <3 I had a chokoladesnitte and a tryksnegl. 
The definition of "super clear" is defined by TWO red signs. Only at this intersection, though.
This was a good pizza place. Good to know if you run out of ideas what to have for lunch or dinner !
The saleswoman at the airport claimed that each of the small bottles contains the J'adore-perfume. I somehow doubt that - they do not have the same colour.
3 p.m. it still was sunny. Such an easy thing to forget when in Sweden - sun.
We were about forty minutes late and more it would be: this machine had to spray on a pink liquid to remove the ice from the wings. Right in front of my eyes.
And I kept thinking: how environmentally friendly is this?
Up in the air, it was a stunning view. (It is not always.)
I tried to look down on the miniature cities and calculate time and distance to localise them. Quite a hard task, so far.
Next time I fly will probably be to London.