Saturday, 31 January 2009

Spilt tea all over my MacBook

I have this lovely machine which I use every day and naturally have not backed up everything on. Well, the thought had gone through my mind more than once and I wondered what would happen if I ever spilt anything on it.

This week I found out.

I tripped walking back to my computer, carrying my tea. The tea went flying - all over my computer. Despite my complete and utter despair I managed to keep my wits about me (not sure how). I tipped it upside down, grabbed a cloth, wiped it off and then pulled the battery out, wiping out the water before putting the hair dryer on it (warm not hot).

A thousand things went through my mind. I turned the desktop computer on and went out on the net to see what to do - thank fully I had done everything right - and most importantly - DID NOT TURN IT BACK ON! Instinctively you want to do that to see if it is working.

The advice online - leave it off for a few days to completely dry out.
So I did.
We've just turned it back on - 3-4 days later. I was nervous.

Everything seems to be in order - sure it could've gone on insurance but that is a big hassle. What a relief! Although time will tell if it is completely unscathed.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Glad we're not still in Melbourne in this heat wave

While suburban temperatures were recorded at about 45 C yesterday, the thermometer on my mum's balcony almost blew the mercury at 47 C! With an overnight temperature of 26 C it was already 36 C by 9am.

Late in the afternoon they relented and finally decided to turn on the air conditioner, only to discover that power shortages had left them without electricity.

Melbourne was today officially in its hottest-known three-day heatwave, after the temperature again broke through the 43 degrees celsius barrier. Today's temperature of 43.8 degrees recorded at 1.52pm (AEDT) marked the first time since records began in 1855 that the city has had three consecutive days above 43.

Read more about the effect of record-breaking temperatures in Victoria:
Photos from around the state.

Vic blaze destroys homes as town runs out of water

Sudden deaths in sweltering city.

Water supply drops in Victoria as temperature soars.

We got out of there just in time.....

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Sweden's longest road tunnel

has been proposed by the Swedish Road Administration.

Building a road system in any city built on 24 000 islands has to be a challenge. Throw a whole lot of green space into the equation, along with nature reserves, forests and lakes and you have a planner's nightmare. Add to that local residents who subscribe to NIMBY (not in my backyard) and any planner would struggle to make sense of the situation.

Well that is exactly the situation we have here in Stockholm, which is why it has taken Vägverket so long to come up with a solution that will keep everyone happy. On the other hand no one wants to see a continuation of the traffic chaos we have today and some of the busiest intersections would see a drastic reduction in traffic once a solution was put in place.

It was recently reported in the Swedish SvD that Vägverket propose to build the longest tunnel in Sweden - a 16 kilometre tunnel from Kungens kurva to Hjulsta. With a speed limit of 90 km/h it would take a mere 11 minutes from one end to the other - that is from one side of the city to the other! The tunnel would not only protect the recreational areas Lovön and Grimsta Forest but also Lake Mälaren - going 60 metres under the surface of the water, straight through the bedrock. It is estimated to take 8 years to complete.

The proposal is now with the government, awaiting feedback. The group Save Grimsta Forest apparently consider the proposal a victory.

Sweden is not stranger to tunnels with the metro system weaving its way deep beneath the surface of the earth. This proposal does however put tunnel building into a new era in this country with the longest so far being Södra Länken, a mere 3.9km. Our Norwegian neighbours on the other hand have plenty of experience, with their longest tunnel being 25km.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Pippi - A Modern Day Role Model

Pippi Longstocking is not everyone's favorite. My older sister remembers her being banned in our household and neither my younger sister nor I knew who she was by the time we reached adulthood.

A few years ago we were watching the Swedish version (compliments of my daughter) and we talked about how controversial she must have been in her day, and how much of a role model she is here in Sweden, even if Astrid never intended it to be that way.

Without doubt you could write an entire paper (or two) about Pippi, about the chicken and the egg theory - did she influence or reflect earlier Swedish attitudes? You could write about her character traits and her attitudes, about her presence in every Swedish child's mind, about women (and men) in Sweden today and their position in the world, in the work place, in society, and in the home. I wonder how many papers out there have been written on Pippi.

And although we have had the 60th Anniversary of Pippi she still continues to influence and to be a role model. Swedish newspaper SvD reported recently on the Swedish Attorney General's letter to her French colleague Rachida Dati. Beatrice Ask's empathy must have been strong for this single mother who refused to name the father of her child and subsequently returned to work just 5 days after giving birth to her daughter. Ask was Minister of Education when she, as a single woman, gave birth to a son, returning to work immediately afterwards.

In her support amidst the controversy and rumors, Ask supposedly wrote: Pippi was an unusually strong and adventuresome girl with a warm heart. I think applies to you both.

Long live Pippi!!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Things I Love About Sweden - Expat Confessions

There are things I love about life in Sweden, and plenty of things I don't like at all. I often find myself thinking about them - both at home here, at home in Australia and when we are in Canada.

That is the fate of an expat - to compare the way things are, the way they are done, the history, the culture, the way of life. It doesn't mean we don't love the country and culture we come from, or the one we now live in. It doesn't mean we don't get homesick, it doesn't mean we want to stay away forever or alternatively, that we aren't happy living in our new country.

But it does mean we listen, we watch, we observe. We don't take things for granted. We don't accept things just because they are, because they always have been. It also means we have to learn to be tactful, to choose when and where to express our opinions and not to dwell on the negative, the frustrating, the different.

There are tons of things I love about Sweden and I will add to the list, but for starters I'm going to quote two other bloggers-

When daddies take care of kids.

Ten reasons why I am glad I will be in Sweden and not in the USA in 2009.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Australia Day in Stockholm

While celebrations might be coming to a close at home the day is hardly underway up here in the north. So if you missed the Aussie Footy Federation's do at O'Connells on Saturday night and are looking for somewhere to celebrate our 221st anniversary of white settlement, you have one more chance.

Stockholm's only Australian Bar will be celebrating Australia Day today - and Australians, Expats and Swedes alike are all invited to celebrate. Australian hosts Jo and Nathan will be serving ice cold Australian, local and imported beers all night ensuring you get a taste of that unique Aussie hospitality.

Kick back and listen to the latest Aussie music and old rock classics to celebrate Australia's biggest party day.

Located in Vasastan underneath Bagpipers Inn, the Boomerang Bar has been refurbished and decked out with plush new booths, free pool table, and décor to remind you of the land down under, you're guaranteed to have a great night out amongst the chilled-out beer loving Australians. The fully equipped kitchen serves tasty bar snacks and hearty meals to keep you fuelled all night, and you may find yourself trying some "delicious" Vegemite on toast.

The Boomerang Bar is a home away from home for homesick travellers and Expats, this is also a place where locals love to mingle amongst the English speaking professionals who call Stockholm home. Warm up in the cosy surroundings of the Boomerang Bar and forget about that long lost Aussie Summer.

Australia Day 2009 at Boomerang Bar is sure to be a great night for all those who love Australia.To find your way to Boomerang Bar, please click here for map.

However you spend it - Happy Australia Day 2009!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

A fabulous weekend with an Aussie flavour

filled with friends, laughter, good food and wine!

The plan was to go ice-skating with lunch together either before or after, but the rain, the grey skies and big puddles persuaded us to stay in. It quickly turned into an afternoon at home followed by dinner by the open fire.

Our Aussie-Kiwi-Swedish friends came over Saturday and we were joined by another Aussie friend who rang to see what we were up to. It was a great spontaneous get-together filled with lots of joking around and funny stories.

I threw a side of salmon onto a bed of sea salt, put it into the oven for 20-30 minutes and coupled with salad, rice and a fresh dill, parsley & lemon sauce it was a very simple but delicious meal. After our red wine and cheese platter we drank coffee and ate little caramel tarts - condensed milk caramel on butter-nut snaps (the Aussies will know what these are all about - YUM, YUM!) The kids watched a movie until ours fell asleep and our friends decided to take their's home to bed. But the night was still young(ish) and the three of us sat talking until we finally kicked our friend out in the wee hours.

With tomorrow being Australia Day I feel like I got my own little celebration with my Aussie friends!

Today more friends rang to say they were coming over and we had lunch together, looked at photos, talked and laughed. Their son is down under at the moment and while we were there we visited with him and his grandmother, who is not too far from my mum. Our other Aussie connection, our adopted family, our good friends - a complement to our Australia Day weekend.Happy Australia Day tomorrow!

Swede Runner-Up: Europe's Best Young Entrepreneur

Therese Albrechtson is having no trouble building her brand and is getting plenty of publicity to help her along the way.

Not only nominated but also runner-up for Business Week's Best Young European Entrepreneur 2008 this dynamic Swedish woman founded three companies by the tender young age of 23. While that might be amazing in itself, it is highlighted by the fact that an accident two years ago and a subsequent cerebral hemorrhage put her out of action for 12 months!

Still she managed to make her way back and now spends her days inspiring others.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Swedish Geeks' list of 53 new internet services

As the 24hr Business Camp comes to an end the entire list of 53 new internet services is available for your perusal. If you scroll down the live blog you can read (in English thank you very much!) each team's contribution outlining who they are and/or what they have come up with.

There are some great ideas amongst them.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Årets företagare - Business Person Of The Year - Stockholm.

While on the subject of business and networks I thought I'd mention Englishmen Jonathan Kirby and Martin Charlton who were awarded Business Person Of The Year 2008 for their Live It Experiences AB.

Their business concept is based on the fact that it is becoming more and more difficult to buy presents for people, so instead of buying someone a thing, you can get them an experience. They have gathered the best experiences Sweden has to offer and when you have chosen, ordered and paid for your gift an attractive Live It box is sent out with photos, booking information and a voucher.

Not only is it a great idea but the award was won by two non-Swedes. Both these guys are love-refugees, married to Swedes, and have been here for 8 and 9 years. Nice to know there is potential for all to be award-winning business people! Well done guys!!! After thier initial start in 2005 they now have 14 employees and have an annual turnover of 40 million SEK - not bad for a couple of English blokes!

Företagarna Stockholms Stad is a part of a national business organisation who present this award each year to a person/people not only for their accomplishments but also because they through their leadership are a good role-model and ambassador for small business people. are able to show extra creativity and are enterprising. They also need to be profitable and the owner/s must be actively running the company (SvD article).

According to the article Stockholm has 50 000 - 60 000 business owners, which makes for quite a few nominations. The winners are now candidates for the title of Swedish Business Person of the Year 2008. I'll hold my thumbs for them (and cross my fingers).

Women Entrepreneurs & Networks in Sweden & Stockholm

Went to the Venture Cup Inspiration For Women night last night and was truly inspired. I heard just what I need to hear and picked up a few ideas, some food for thought. The two speakers were Karin, founder of Grooming - Sweden's only grooming company aimed exclusively at men, and Caroline, co-founder of FUNtasi Fabriken whose goal is to bring dance to the people.

It is always interesting and inspiring to listen to others who have started a business and share their experiences - the good and the bad. And with only about 33% of Venture Cup applicants being women the organisation does what it can to encourage more to enter the competition and these women shared their thoughts about the difference between men and women in business.

Karin advised us to be clear in our communication, rather than talk around things as women often do. She also suggested that women are better at building relationships, and that this is something we can benefit from. She then went on to offer three very simple, practical, yet valuable pieces of advice:
  1. ask questions and opinions and listen to those around you, but most importantly, listen to yourself
  2. use your own network - talk to the people you know, rather than running around town mingling at different events and building up a very superficial network
  3. have patience and perserverance. It takes much longer than you think it is going to. Hang in there - it is the same for everyone!
Caroline suggested we
  1. have plans, long term and short term, but have a long term goal.
  2. picture a number of potential scenarios right from the beginning and have a plan for how you will deal with them, that way there are no surprises.
Both before and after the speeches there was time for mingling. It is not that easy to stand amongst a bunch of strangers and mingle, in fact I don't enjoy it at all and I find it SO much harder to do in Swedish. So I was quite pleased to hear advice point number 2 and I go to these events mostly to hear the speakers - it really helps keep me motivated and focused on what I am doing.

There are a ton of business networks and organisations around and while many of them have events aimed exclusively at women, there are also a number of women-only networks around. If you too need inspiration and motivation, want a place to seek advice or companionship or are just curious about what others are up to, check out the following links:

Carpe Competencia - Sweden's biggest network for young academic women.
Driftig - Sweden's biggest online network for women who want to or have started their own business.
Kvinnliga Företagare - online meeting place for women in business.
Shenet - a network for women who want more out of their working life, bringing focus to female stars in business and inspiring others.
Göran - a network for women who want to share experience and advice on how to achieve balance in their personal and professional life.
KvinnorKan - an organisation promoting equal rights, obligations and opportunities for men and women.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Swedish 24 Hour Business Camp

are the words on everyone's lips at the moment (apart from Obama).

A star-studded list of about 90 guys and gals, divided into 52 teams, are heading out to Hasseludden tonight to spend 24 hours crunching their brains. Each team brings with them a web-based business idea and will spend the 24 hours getting it up and running. At the end of the camp they'll present and hopefully launch their fully working concept.

Amongst them are some of the hottest names in internet-entrepreneurialism, including the founder Ted Valentine, who has a long list of start-ups under his belt. Together they have an even longer list of internet-based services behind them, and in the next couple of days they plan to add another 52!

And the question of everyone's lips is "Why?"
In their own words they say -
To inspire. It has never been so easy to realise a business idea as it is today. All you need is a laptop and an internet connection.
It won't be Ericsson and Volvo who pull Sweden out of the economic crisis that is before us. It will be a large number of small entrepreneurs.

Wise words! Wohoo!!! - GO guys & gals, GO!!

If you want more information check out 24 hour business camp . Keep an eye on their live blog if you want to follow their progress throughout the 24 hours.
It will be very interesting to see what they come up with!!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Venture Cup Öst

I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things. We pretty much over the jet-lag and early morning awakenings, the kids are back at daycare, Ty has been back at work almost a week and I'm sitting here saying - where was I?

Thankfully I have a Inspiration Night for Women to go to tomorrow night, put on by Venture Cup Öst. VCÖ is, according to their own website, a business plan competition with the objective to stimulate entrepreneurship and to increase the founding of new companies in the eastern part of Sweden. Anyone with an innovative concept who wants to start a business is welcome to participate in Venture Cup, free of charge.

Just what I need, a little kick-start, enthusiasm and inspiration.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Sunday By The Lake

Last Sunday we were at Lysterfield Lake swimming. It was glorious!

This Sunday we swapped the bathers for the winter gear and walked on the iced-over local lake.
Welcome home to reality!
Still, winter in Sweden is quite magical - but cold!

Lily pads, frozen beneath the surface of the water.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Australia: 5 weeks in a nutshell

We visited old Swedish friends, stayed in a beach house with my sister and her family, swam in the freezing cold ocean, played in the sand, basked in the sun, went to Carols by Candle-light, took the ferry between Queenscliff & Sorrento, watched dolphins frolicking in the sea, researched & bought a new camera, saw penguins swim to shore and then scramble up over the beach to their burrows, rode motorbikes & 4-wheelers through the bush, celebrated a bush Christmas, killed spiders, heard snake stories, swam in a river & a freshwater lake, fed wild cockatoos & rosellas, went kangaroo spotting at night, visited an aunt and a cousin & her man on their newish farm, walked in the rainforest, escaped for a romantic night in Olinda, ate great food at cafés & restaurants, ate fish & chips on the beach, shopped, visited long lost cousins & a long lost uncle, bottle fed lambs, went to a Wiggles concert, enjoyed the company of old friends, had a picnic with the extended family, visited a community farm, visited the Australia Gardens, celebrated my birthday a month early, dropped in for dinner, chatted with people I couldn't see in person, looked through old photos, ate cheesecake, celebrated NYE with old friends, went to a 60th birthday celebration, went and saw the movie Australia on the big screen, drank lots of good wine & beer, played pool, jumped on trampolines (everyone has them), bbq'd, built train tracks and talked and talked and talked - with family and with friends. Otherwise we generally just hung out and enjoyed life.

And we were totally and utterly spoiled by my mum and her partner!!! They cooked for us, took care of the kids whenever we wanted, handed over the keys to her car, organised all the picnic stuff every time we had a picnic, shopped, did our washing, cleaned up after us....... the list goes on. Any wonder I feel more refreshed than I have in years. Thank you both. We'll be back next month. HA!!! I wish!!
We are home again. But my body clock is telling me it is way past my bedtime - more tomorrow. 35 hours of travel and a 10 hour time difference is a lot to contend with. Good night.