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Boston Blatte

Raised in Boston, remade in Sweden

Posts Tagged ‘sweden’

Roma band to Almedalen: We beg your pardon

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Over in the news section of The Local, an article’s headline proclaims: “Beggar symphony to play at Almedalen”

roma musician

The Roma in Sweden have been in the Swedish news quite a lot of late. (quick search on TL for “roma”)Mostly, it’s about the influx of beggars, who are primarily from Romania. The new trend is tight on the heels of discoveries of police registers by the Swedish police of Swedes of Roma ancestry. And then there’s the political spin featured by the über nationalistic Sweden Democrats.

In other words, mention ROMA, Romanians or beggars and you’ll get people’s attention.

The project, Tunnelbanan till Almedalen, will bring a dozen Romanian street musicians to Sweden’s largest political event, Almedalen, to perform Sweden’s national anthem. They will play on Tuesday, the day the Sweden Democrats are hosting. Yep, we’ve got some political posturing going on, and nicely chosen if you ask me.

The estimated cost to transport and house the (all-male?) band to Almedalen = 15,000SEK. The funding source? Crowd funding.

That’s all good. The more we get the everyday Svensson involved the more awareness we raise and the stronger the message becomes.

However, the cynic in me walks on the scene when I read that its organizer, Max Valentin, an entrepreneur (yay for entrepreneurs) is the founder of the crowd funding site of choice; Crowdculture.se. What has read as an act of socio-political activism now starts giving off whiffs of promotional/guerrilla marketing.

My comment “Sounds more like a marketing ploy to promote his crowd-funding site. If he really wanted to bring them there, 15,000 would be peanuts to write off as a company cost.” was challenged by Max Valentin on Twitter.

When I pointed out that he via the promotion of his site would benefit from the attention, he clarified:

I applauded Max Valentin for his effort to address his critics and to stand his ground on his cause. We agreed that a continued public dialog would be beneficial. I expect he’ll be available and amiable to address comments.

While I like the idea of the Metro to Almedalen, I still have issues with it, e.g.

1. Street musicians and begging are not intrinsically linked.
2. Playing the Swedish Anthem is provocative, yet are the musicians Roma from Sweden? There are two issues; bigotry and resentment towards the ethnic Roma in Sweden and the public view of Roma from Romania coming to Sweden to beg. Is there an advantage or a disadvantage to conflate them?
3. Most (if not all?) of the Roma musicians are men. Yet we see as many women trying to eek out an existence.
4. Is sensationalizing the topic going to do more than get headlines?
5. The crowd funding site asks for repeat donations. What else will the money go for if the 15,000SEK is exceeded?

What are YOUR questions?

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Boston Beta Blatte: Testing one of Sweden’s innovative start-up gadgets

Friday, October 11th, 2013

This week I am on the cutting edge of being a techie nerd. Well, the cutting edge of being the guinea pig for the true techie entrepreneurs. This week I am a beta tester for a new wearable camera.

narrative clip orange

It is called the Narrative Clip (until just a week ago, better known as Memoto.) It’s a wearable camera that is always on, takes a snap every 30 seconds and easily uploads to a mobile app for you to archive or share to your heart’s content.

Sweden is among the lead pack of countries breeding, incubating nurturing, disruptive innovation, gaming and start up companies. For a sparsely populated country extending into the Arctic circle, that is pretty impressive in my book.

And the Swedes have even succeeded at spreading the wealth of this economic turbine to several regions traversing the length and breadth of a physically large country. From Malmö in the southwest corner just across the bridge to Copenhagen, Denmark reaching diagonally northbound to Luleå at the top of the Bay of Bothnia, clusters of research institutions and private enterprise dot the country.

Not surprising, Stockholm the nation’s capital, has more than its fair share of these start ups. And living in the capital means that there is great opportunity to interact with the dynamic people and companies.

Location has its privileges. Well, if you want to be a tech guinea pig at least.

I’ll post some of my images in a day or two.

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Back in the Blog: Blatte is back

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

I took a hiatus over the summer.

Summer dragged on to fall and knowing the slippery slope of Sweden’s seasons…winter shall be upon us in no time.

But we are enjoying indian summer at the moment. It’s called Brittsommar in Swedish. It takes its name from the Swedish name day, Birgitta, which falls on October 7.

Pretty spot on as the weather turned the day before yesterday, on October 6.

brittsommar

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IKEA UK: Swedish furniture giant stomps gnomes.

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

A recent IKEA commercial has inflamed the gnomists of the UK. It has lead to more than 50 complaints lodged with the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority. Apparently the gnome is a quintessential garden love/hate feature of the average UK garden. I have learned today that one should not enrage gnome fans.

gnome ikea

Link to watch advert video here

Recently, the Royal Horticultural Society lifted a ban (yes…royal gardening has been rather undemocratic) on the garden gnome at the prestigious Chelsea Garden Show, a clear victory for gnome enthusiasts of the British Isles.

IKEA marketing is intended to drive visitors to the IKEA store. Is their new UK ad campaign set to achieve this, albeit led by the angry, gnome-loving masses? According to the Daily Mail sales of gnomes have risen 150%.

Perhaps this is just a calculated, evil plot by the furniture giant intending to bring gnomes to the product range? Though, the IKEA newsroom reports that Brits are embarrassed by their gardens citing, “Once a staple of the English country garden, only a dwindling 1% said they needed ‘more gnomes’ in their garden”.

Maybe someone in the IKEA UK marketing department has a secret fondness for the sprightly figure. Soon, it shall all be revealed (*inserts evil laugh*).

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Hockey. Hockey. Hockey.

Monday, May 20th, 2013

BANG!!!! BANG!!!! BANG!!!

In the midst of the Stanley Cup’s Eastern Conference semifinals series, every Bostonian knows it is all about Bruins ice hockey.

faceoff

Oh right. I am in Sweden, home of the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation GOLD Champions. And there is certainly no doubt ice hockey fever has taken over Sweden.

sweden hockey

A lot of Swedes, the Swedish husband included, should rightfully be questioning my loyalties placing Boston hockey playoffs above Swedish gold-medal champions. The thing is, that I am even writing about hockey is pretty ironic to begin with.

I am about the furthest thing from a hockey fan there can be (though I did play field hockey at Watertown High currently boasting a 90-something unbeaten game record). However, this past week I have read about, listened to and watched more hockey than in my lifetime.

I caught the fever discovering the events leading up to Boston’s defeat over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Going from a 3-0 series lead, the Bruins face off against the Leafs in game 7. Coming into the 3rd period the Bruins are down 4-1. And they rally to a 5-4 victory in overtime. Incredible. I was regretting not having watched the game.

We’re not a sports-watching family (thankfully) but we are fans of our ‘home teams’. That means if the US, Sweden or Boston are in a race for a title –you pick the sport, we are game-watchers.

And so, in addition to the nail-biter Sweden matches in the International Ice Hockey Federation games hosted by Sweden, I watched both the semi-final US defeat against Switzerland and the bronze US victory over Finland.

Today, Sweden is in hockey ecstasy over its glorious champion status. And with that glee comes light-hearted humor. This image has been touring the walls of several Facebook friends.

funny

The message is clearly sedated bragging over the defeating Switzerland at the (cheap) expense of stereotypical American geographical challenges. But in their cute, naive way, they presume there are Americans who have even heard of the International Ice Hockey Federation, then know that there is a world championship and finally, CARE about the results. It is long stretch.

But it tickles the jubilant Swedes basking in hockey glory.

The reality (perhaps sad and provincial) is that Americans who care about hockey, only care about the NHL. They are grateful for the rest of the world supplying amazing hockey players. Sweden has produced Carl Söderberg for Boston and for the NY Rangers, Carl Hagelin Anton Strålman, and Henrik Lundqvist.

So in equally light-hearted humor, I will leave you with a playful image of Bruins pride aimed at NY Rangers’ goalie…who happens to be a Swede:

suck it

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Stuck in Stockholm for the sport holiday? Best kept secret is BouleBar

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Boule Bar at Globen was our one-stop shopping solution to keeping a 5-year old, two 8-year olds, a mom and a grandmother entertained on our first day of the sporting holiday week.

And fed.

All that on a very limited budget.

boulebar

Included in the 89kr/adult 49kr/child pricing: hot dish, fresh salad bar, juice, coffee/tea, homemade chocolate truffles AND a round of boule WITH free popcorn.

You might know boule better as bocce or pétanaque

boule

It was better than bowling since anyone who could carry and throw the metal ball could play. And the pace was pretty quick to keep the easily bored or distracted active.

Until today I had only been to the location on Kungsholmen and then we have only eaten or enjoyed beverages.

Added bonus(es) to the Globen location:
-free parking
-kid friendly
-indoor cours
-nicest staff

Unfortunately, I don’t get a red öre for this shameless plug.

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Sweden does the Harlem Shake (so does the Norwegian military)

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Gagnam Style is so 2012. If you haven’t caught a whiff of the newest viral video meme craze sweeping the world (at least any part of the world connected by the Internet), it is the Harlem Shake.

harlem shake

If you search YouTube or with any search engine for the Harlem Shake you are going to get an insanely long listing of the wackiest versions of this 30-second dance meme.

This internet phenomenon kicked off at the end of January this year, and within the first two weeks of February it has grandmas, lego figures, Pokémon and everything in between doing the 30-second shake. The only definition that versions follow is best described here on Wikipedia.

Here is the best one I have found with a Swedish touch.

Norway, on the other hand, has produced the best military version. Thanks to Norway’s membership in NATO, the military drills can take a lighter twist.

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Debunking Swedish Stereotypes: Cold neighbors

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Bring on snow and the Bostonian in me cannot be contained.

If I see a car stuck, I just jump in and start pushing. Despite the Swedish husband’s concern that people might get offended, every Swede I have helped has thanked me appreciatively. The day I got stuck in soft, deep snow outside our place at Hornstull I feared I might be there for hours if people were as cautious to assist me as my husband had suggested. Not the case. Within minutes a man asked if he could help. Out in a flash.

snow push

Not surprisingly, I have been following the Blizzard Nemo that hit Boston and the northeast last week. I was feeling rather helpless thinking about my mid-octogenerian parents in Watertown. They have adopted that Yankee stalwart independence despite both of them being naturalized citizens (in fairness I think the stubbornness and independence was imported with them, but tis no matter, they fit right in) and had waved me away on each concerned call to confirm that they had a plan in place to get them shoveled out.

-You don’t have to worry about us.
-We are all set.
-We will manage.

Did I mention that my father just got his hip replaced less than two months ago and my mother has been playing his nursemaid since the pre-op? And yet she was out there shoveling the day after Nemo stopped dumping snow. But so were her neighbors and my friends who live close by. And I was very grateful.

sdf

Today, in an act of repayment in the spirit of paying it forward (because the help my parents got is now being passed along) I took a shovel up to an elderly neighbor’s house. The snow accumulation has not been much here in my ‘burb of northern Stockholm, but it has been consistent. The plows caught up yesterday and piled up heavy, frozen banks in front of cleared walks and drives. My sweet neighbor clearly just couldn’t manage it, and probably like my parents, hadn’t turned to neighbors since she figured she could manage climbing over it.

So, I just started clearing (and quietly swearing since it was solid frozen and heavy). She came out a bit surprised to find me there. I assured her that I was happy to do it and I explained about my own parents. With moist eyes she hugged me.

Best thing I could do on the day of love; love my neighbor. And she loved me back.

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Sweden’s quirky sports: Ice pole sitting

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Yep, you read it right. Ice pole sitting. Or motionless ice pole dancing? Freeze tag? Hey, I saved you a spot.

This past weekend, in the Västerbotten region, better known for its cheese , (lit translation: western bottom…pun on left cheek?) the little community of Vihelmina, held its traditional Wihelmina Winter Weekend (what a clever abbreviation WWW…whoops, already taken, nevermind.)
ice pole

Poking around on the municipality’s website (with links to a live webcam!) it seems the only activity on offer for the WWW event is…watching the pole sitters.

The competition was grueling. Six started out and…all six contestants won!

To claim their 20,000kr prize they had to stay atop the block for 48 hours. With reports that youth unemployment is sky high, this might be one way to bring home some cold, hard currency.

Even the Huffington Post couldn’t leave this alone.

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Viking envy: Kubb for AmeriSwedes

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Kubb, the lawn-game popularized in modern Sweden in the 1990s, has made it to the US.
kubb

In the early days, Kubb games spattered the grassy parks around Stockholm and urban areas throughout Sweden. It was new to Swedes then, too. The marketing of the game linked it to ancient Gotland, and when you say “ancient” in Sweden, it is an easy leap to Vikings. Outside of Sweden, that means…Vikingmania. And it is way more colorful to tie it to Vikings. (factual note: the game as such is not older than 20th century.)

An article from the Twincities.com website (including a video spot) from Minnesota shows how its explosive popularity has surpassed that of Swedes of Sweden with determined Kubb players taking to the frozen lakes to play kubb. I can’t say I have ever seen a kubb game anywhere in Sweden on snow let alone ice.

Yo modern Vikings…your cousins in the US midwest are beating you in outdoor determination. Why skate, ski or ice fish when you can swill chilled beers and play kubb!

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