Wednesday, August 31, 2005

There and Back Again (A Swedes' Tale)

I'm sitting on the last lap of the flight back from my visit from Sweden and what better time to try to write up my experiences coming back for this time around. This was my first visit for almost exactly one year (And then only for around 2 weeks) and I have to say this is the first time I at least partially felt like it isn't exactly home anymore. Let's start with the simple stuff that I have gotten used to that is different between Sweden and the US.

  • I can't shop in a supermarket anymore since I never ever remember that I need to buy bags until I have already paid for all my stuff. In the US bags are always free (Even though they are completely useless and break if you ever try to put anything heavy in them), and the even pack the stuff for you (Poorly usually, what you wanted your eggs on top of the milk carton?).
  • The right on red traffic rule is scarily easy to get used to which almost caused me to go against a red light a couple of times. Also different is the fact that you almost never need to over take anybody in the passing line in the States, which you do all the time in Sweden.
  • Not really a US thing, but an Orange County vs Stockholm thing. I miss the big city. At one point I could distinctly hear at least 6 different languages being spoken in a subway car on my way home from town during this trip, you never hear anything except english and spanish in OC. Even though Los Angeles is a really, really big city it has no real pulse and no city center with a little bit of charisma. On the other hand when I go back to Stockholm I also miss the beach so you can never be completely satisfied I guess.
  • One thing I also miss a little bit is that I no longer have my own language in which to speak with close to reckless abandon as to who might be listening. Not that I ever really have anything secret to say it's still nice.
  • A lot of things have also changed over the year in Stockholm. As always all the clubs change name and place with a fearsome pace and it's really hard to keep track if you're not there anymore (I could hardly keep up when I lived there). That was an interesting thing when I first moved to Stockholm that everyone described places with what used to be there before (Buddha, you know where Biblos used to be). I was just starting to experience the second "generation" of names as I left and soon I will be completely left in the dust again.
  • And finally one thing I don't miss about Sweden... The mosquitos. I had almost completely forgotten about them since last time.
I don't remember if I mentioned this last year I was home, but it is really hard to come home like this since everyone takes time to see you and there is always something fun going on non stop for the entire visit which makes it seem even better than when you lived there (I have even had good fortune with the Swedish weather for petes sake). I did also completely pork away on really crappy food for most of the trip. I think it is that good food is pretty much the same everywhere in the world, but the crappy food is way more different. I'm talking about Kebab, Sibylla (Hamburger and thin bread roll, always with shrimp sallad off course), pizza with sirloin and Bearneaisse sauce and that kind of stuff. I've also stocked up on some of the foods that are not perishable that will come in handy in the year to come.

Someone during the trip also asked me a question that I found intreaging, but didn't really have a good answer which I think is telling in itself: "What do you like least about living in the States?". The more I think of it I realize that there really isn't anything that I can complain too much about in my current setup. The minute I manage to think something up that is a bit annoying I realize that if that is my main concern I really shouldn't complain about anything.

Anyway, I know I recently sent another mail so I'll try to keep this at least not too long so I'll cut this short here. I would like to thank everyone for making the week awesome and hope to see you all not too far off in the future. If all else fails I guess I'll turn up around this time next year as usual. I would like to round up with a quote that I for some reason am thinking of right now (Though not really connected to anything I've said):

"Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans"

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Going home

I'm sitting in the airport in Houston where I have a 6 hour wait until the flight continues to Amsterdam from which I'm then on to Stockholm. I'm ok thought, because I have access to one of the lounches so I have internet access and power (Plus a bunch of DVD:s and of course a laptop).

I thought I'd take some time to put down a short bullet list of the stuff that has happened since the last mail as well as I remember it. So here goes.

  • Finally been to the Gaslight District in San Diego. Probably the most famous part of this town.
  • Finally been out partying in down town Los Angeles. For some reason I had never been there before. It's not really a nice part of town so why would you go there? I went there for a concert and had a great time.
  • Got arrested. It's a long story (Too long to recount in full here). Basically I got drugged, robbed and then the police picked me up for public intoxication. I'm ok though and I only lost a watch, some credit card and around $40. I had the chance to go to court though (Where I got off). All in all an interesting experience which I would be happy never to go through again.

That's pretty much all I can think of for now. Another interesting note is that previously while I was in the LAX lounge I sat next to the first famous person that I know of since I moved here. It was Kevin Bacon. I think I know why I never see anybody too now because even though he was sitting 3 feet away from me for about an hour I didn't realize who it was until around 3 people had come over to ask for autographs.

Hope to see you all in a couple of days (If you are in Sweden).

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

American Values

I'm taking a few moments to write about something different than what I am up to and just thought I'd share a few thoughts about my perception of some controversial US subjects who as usual I can't really understand what the whole hoopla is about.

Burning of the American flag

There has been a lot of discussion about making it illegal to burn an American flag here in the United States.

First of all it is interesting to note that according to the U.S. Flag Code the correct way to dispose of a flag is, and I quote: "The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning".

Jokes aside, the case for making it illegal is that the American flag is the most important symbol of American values (Being the freedom and pursuit of happiness). I can understand how some people can find it offensive that someone so blatantly express their displeasure and disrespect of something that most people here (Me included most of the time) agrees with.

However, I find it interesting that in order to protect the symbol of American values they think it is ok to betray those values (In this case limit freedom). In short the way I see it, the people who are for making it illegal to burn the American flag find that the symbol itself is more important than the values it represent.

The US strategy of preemption

With this I mean the new way that America has decided that it has the right to go to war in the world. That is basically if it feels threatened by any other state it has the right to go after that state, regardless of if any other country in the world agrees with the US or not.

To start off and to set the record straight, I was for the war in Iraq (Although not the way America went about to do it). The way Saddam Hussein behaved before the war was just so bizarre if he did not possess weapons of mass destruction I just couldn't understand why he behaved the way he did. With that I mean that he cooperated so badly with the UN inspectors even though he apparently had no WMD:s.

I just find it this new way of thinking very dangerous. To explain why I think so I would like to start out with claiming that I think pretty much every country in the world think that it is righteous (I'm going to intentionally leave out North Korea, because Kim Jong Il just seems to behave so erratically).

To illustrate my point I'm going to choose the country of Iran. I am fairly certain that the people who rule Iran are convinced that they are working as a force for good (Something you usually get from very religious people). Let us assume that Iran adopted the same foreign policy as the US. That is if they feel they are in danger of being attacked by another forreign country they have the right to preemptively strike at that country, what would they do? And before we even go there take a moment to think of who is in the most danger of being attacked by the other Iran or the USA. My bet is that Iran has a lot bigger chance of being attacked (And much more severely) than USA. So according to the same reasoning as the US used to attack Iraq (I'm not going to include Afghanistan because in that case they actually did strike first, and I seem to recall that the US did have UN approval for that), Iraq would be just as justified (Or even more because I seriosly think the US could do a lot more damage in Iran than vice verse) to preemptively attack the United States.

That is the reason that in the past a country usually had to go to the UN Securities Council and convince them that they were in the right. And thus by doing this the country in question could go forward with the good eye of the international community (And usually their considerable support, remember Gulf War 1). When each country can decide by them self it is OK to go and invade another country is just very dangerous. The only reason the US got away with it is that they are the "biggest bully in the schoolyard", regardless if they were in the right to invade a country (Which I agree with that they were in the case of Iraq) or if they weren't.

That's it for this time. I have more to say on this subject with the whole "non combatant issue", but I don't have the energy for it right now. Mayby in a future post.