Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hey Sweden, lots of stuff is happening in the EU today! What? I can’t hear you!

LALALLALALALALLALALA I can’t hear you! I have my fingers in my ears and I’m not going to look. Lalalallalalala. Things are GREAT here in Sweden because we survived the Swedish crash of 1992 lalallalallala. Growth this year. Growth next year. Euro what? Euro dork. Ha! Did you see what I did there? You’re a dork! Euro dork. Next week will be a great sunny week!

So maybe you missed it. Today is the day that Europe may come crashing down. While according to the US media Socialist Europe is lying in wreckage and people are being forced to hunt and gather food, the reality is that not much as changed for anyone here in Sweden. And because of that, Swedish politicians seem to be keeping rather mum on much of the subject of the EU and the Euro.

Yes, I realize that Sweden isn’t exactly IN the Euro, but they certainly would be greatly affected if things went up in smoke.

And today there is a big announcement coming from European Commision head Borroso about whether Euro banks should grow even closer together. There is an announcement expected from German courts about whether or not the current bailout scheme is in line with German law, and there is a great big old election in the Netherlands which could give credence to antiEU parties.  If anyone of these misses the mark it might have some pretty serious consequences. Yeah. No biggie here.

So what do Swedish politicians have to say about this mess? What? You don’t hear them? Yeah, neither do I! Sure, Finance Minister Anders Borg has been saying ‘Yeah, like nothing major is going to happen for years. Good luck with that banking union Borroso’ But most of the other politicians? Zero, zip, zilch.

Swedish Parliament, Riksdagen? They are all like ‘EU? See you… we’ve got stuff at home to worry about’ as if stuff in the EU didn’t effect stuff at home.

Everyone is playing ostrich and pretending if they don’t look, it isn’t happening. Maybe its because the next election is still a bit of a ways off, but I really wonder when Swedish politics is going to start addressing some of these EU issues in a big way. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pregnant in Sweden: Foglossning, or SPD, strikes

OK, I am officially eating crow. Everyone and their mother complain about SPD in Sweden and I admit I had never ever heard about anyone having it in the US. ‘It is back pain’ my Swedish friends would explain to me, ‘from loose joints. What do you call that in English?’

And I would smugly answer ‘Being pregnant’

Except that foglossning sucks. Or SPD. And I don’t even have back pain.

It started on Saturday with mild cramping. On Sunday I could barely walk. Going up and down my staircase knocked the wind out of me. I had so much pain in my abdomen and legs, I could not move. I waddle around like I am 36 weeks pregnant, although I am only 17 weeks and barely have a bump.

Ok. I get it now. This foglossning thing is the pits.

So I called the emergency hotline and was told to come in on Monday unless things escalated and I thought I was having a lot of contractions. I wasn’t. Everything was fine if I lay on my back and did not move a muscle.

On Monday I worked half a day from home on my sofa and then went in to the doctors. A quick ultrasound showed baby is doing fine. The doctor recommended I set up an appointment with my midwife and physiotherapist to work on some exercises. She diagnosed the SPD by pushing and pulling on different muscles. It hurt. A lot.

So apparently at only 17 weeks you can go from 0 – a lot of pain pretty quickly even if you never had foglossning in your previous pregnancy.

I am starting to feel better. I am planning on spending a lot of time on the sofa for the next few days hoping this dies down a bit. I cannot put weight on one leg, I need to keep my body balanced as much as possible, which makes me just look really awkward and have a hard time doing a lot of basic tasks.

I take back all of those foglossning jokes.

It is a thing. A really annoying thing. Only positive in this? I managed to meet my deductible which means I have no more co-payments until early next year. So there’s that.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Socialist Sweden STILL more competitive than the USA

According to the recently released World Competitive Report from the World Economic Forum Sweden is still several spots ahead of the US when it comes to global competitiveness. The news wasn’t all good for Sweden, as they slipped a spot, from 3rd to 4th, giving up a place on the top podium to Finland, they still maintain a solid lead against the US.

In fact two Nordic social welfare states lead the US in global competitiveness, in first place there is in third place is Finland and fourth is Sweden. Number two is Singapore. First place goes to Switzerland

The Competitiveness reports a huge variety of different elements to calculate the overall competitiveness of countries. They look at health care, institutions, higher education, goods and labor market efficiency, innovation and many many other combinations of factors.

On a closer look at the report, Sweden dominates the US in basic requirements, which isn’t surprising given this involves basic health care and access to services. But Sweden also outshines the US in innovation and sophistication factors. Where Sweden falls behind is efficiency enhancers, which includes Goods and labor market efficiency as well as market size.

The report pointed out that Sweden is top in its technological readiness, taking first place and is also highly sophisticated in business. It also has a strong and stable macroeconomic environment. The cause for Sweden’s drop? An ongoing deterioration of the institutional framework – a result of the current government’s politics.

This should serve as a bit of evidence that governments with a strong social welfare system can also be innovative and competitive, but with all of the negative attention Europe has been getting lately, this type of info gets swept under the rug. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rhode Island Dressing and Boston Pickle

Swedes seem to have a special attachment to American culture. It is a bit of a love/hate relationship. They seem to appreciate a lot of it, while snarking at the same time.

But there is a strange phenomenon of naming things after American things for absolutely no apparent reason.

First of all, there is the infamous Boston Pickle, or Boston Gurka. This relish is a common find at local kiosks. You can add it to your hot dog, your hamburger, or just mix it up with your mashed potatoes – a common kiosk side dish.

Boston Pickle has never been near Boston. In fact it was developed by a Swedish company to be marketed as a Swedish topping. I have no idea why. But it is pretty good! I usually add a little to my veggie burger now and then.

Rhode Island dressing is a bigger mystery. Why islands seem to inspire dressings is beyond me, maybe all of the seafood? Rhode Island dressing looks a lot like Thousand Island, and I really am not sure what the difference is. Anyone with any experience? Anyone know why Rhode Island dressing is called Rhode Island?

The only story I have heard was that once when it was served it was poured into a strange shape that made it look like Rhode Island. But I cannot imagine a bunch of Swedish chefs standing around going ‘What shall we call this new creation of ours? Why look, doesn’t that remind you of the state of Rhode Island? I say we call this dressing Rhode Island Dressing!’

Anyways, here is a recipe for Rhode Island dressing to help you appreciate Swedish food culture!

1 cup of sour cream or heavy plain yogurt
1 Tablespoon chili sauce
1 Tablespoon Lemon juice
1 Tablespoon chopped peppers
5 drops of Tabasco
1 teaspoon vinegar
½ cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving to get right consistency.