Thursday, January 24, 2013

Today's news in Sweden

Here are some recent news and reflections on current events in Sweden from my trip here:

There is a new law in Sweden that all businesses have to pay all invoices within 30 days.  No exceptions. Nice.

It has been so cold that soon the whole sea between Sweden and Finland is frozen across the narrowest part where the island Aland is, right north of Stockholm.  That doesn't happen every winter, and I love the thought that the ocean is freezing over.  Instead of boats they then use hover crafts to get out to the villages in the archipelagoes.  They use special ships to break the ice on the route between Sweden and Finland too.

The mistletoe plants, parasitic bundles of green that you can see in the tops of naked trees in the winter, are spreading rapidly in Eskilstuna.  When I grew up there were none here, and now they are abundant.  They have berries that are eaten and spread by the Bohemian waxwings.  Changing biodiversity!

Swedish food stores are strange.  They have lots of ecological and sometimes local food, but then the produce looks substandard or simply isn't there.  Regular cauliflower looks like it went through the laundry dryer.  Leeks are limp.  Potatoes, a staple in this country, are in a giant bin, and you have to pick through them to get the ones that don't have blemishes.  Lettuces are half as big as in the US.  And chicken is a lot more expensive that beef and pork, even the most regular cuts.  Chicken breasts (regular mass produced, nothing special) on sale is $5 a pound, while beef roast on sale is down to $4/lbs.  So maybe it is the red meat that is cheap...   I have to investigate this some more and will try to get some photos to illustrate this. This is very surprising to me.

There is a suggestion that Swedes would have a special meat tax since red meat is worse for the environment and the climate than chicken and vegetarian fare.  The Swedes don't like that at all.

New Jersey snow plow drivers are much better at removing snow than the Swedish ones. This really surprised me. Here they don't plow all the way to the curb.  Or on the left side of a highway, making a 4-lane highway turning into 3 lanes, 2 full ones and then two middle lanes that are only half-plowed.  Dangerous. 

The sun gets up around 8.30-9 and by 4 PM it is dark.

There is a Swedish phenomenon called 'fredagsmys'.  Fredag is Friday, and 'mys' is kind of 'hang out and have a great time, but without alcohol, in a cutesy setting'.  This started after I left Sweden, and it is just a way for the stores to sell more chips, dip, ready-made junk food, soda and candy for Friday nights.  A TV program with funny jokes, music and such on Friday evenings for family get togethers (parents, friends, little kids, etc.) helped too.  But really, it is just a giant marketing thing that has fooled most of the Swedes. Fredagsmys is now a word in the dictionary and every kid knows the word and want it.  Can't families do things together without having to have an imposed fake 'get together' time in front of the TV?  I think this is a great example of an artifical need that has been created by food and candy companies, and the Swedes just went all along....


Katie H said...

I thought cedar waxwings only lived in north america! Interesting...

LS said...

Hi Katie - you are right. It is the Bohemian waxwing in Europe. The Swedish name for it is 'sidensvans', which means 'silky tail'. I have corrected it in the text now.