Monday, February 28, 2005


Kycling (chicken in swedish, pronounced shoo-cling) are so good. I live off these things, serious, I have to try and limit myself to a couple a week. C and D know what I'm talking about. They hear about the kyckling all the time.

You get them at any local grocery. They are roasted, so there's no added fun carbs or fat, usually in house. The groceries put them out around 10:30 and leave them in heated cabinets until close. Usually they sell out before dinner time. They are fun and easy though.

You have to prepare them when you get home though. Granted, the little things are cooked within an inch of their lives, but I have issues with chicken standing in a heated cabinet all day. I usually run it in the over for 10 minutes, then under the broiler real quick to crisp up the skin.

They really are the best, I always miss them when I'm in the states.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Evanescence - Where will you go

I was really reaching for something to talk about today. Not to say I don't have a ton of stuff I could say it's just that nothing really seemed to grab me. So I've started up my favorite play list, and decided to talk about Evanescence. I debated talking about turnicate or going under, but I think I want to hit something from Origins, instead of Fallen. Fallen is decidedly mainstream, and I've the whole thing memorized, so Origin grabs my attention more. This way I can analyze some of it too ...

Do you ever consider WHY you listen to something? There are several reasons I really like Evanescence, besides the impules to throw a few 'horns' up when the music gets really loud. Firstly, Amy Lee, lead singer, is bad ass. Secondly, the counterpoint they use is just as engaging as their refrains and main rifs (namely their interesting percussion and use of male backups). Third, it lets me feel angry without getting obsessed. I like this one the best. It's great when I'm really in an 'eh' mood. I put them on, I get a littile angst and anger, and then I turn them off and I feel renewed. If it only worked all the time ...

Where will you go, selected quote:

You’re too important for anyone
There’s something wrong with everything you see
But I, I know who you really are
You’re the one who cries when you’re alone

But where will you go
With no one left to save you from yourself
You can’t escape
You can’t escape

You think that I can’t see right through your eyes
Scared to death to face reality
No one seems to hear your hidden cries
You’re left to face yourself alone


I realize you’re afraid
But you can’t abandon everyone
You can’t escape
You don’t want to escape

I’m so sick of speaking words that no one understands
Is it clear enough that you can’t live your whole life all alone
I can hear you in a whisper
But you can’t even hear me screaming


I realize you’re afraid
But you can’t reject the whole world
You can’t escape
You won’t escape
You can’t escape
You don’t want to escape

~ courtesy of Lyrics Style

One of the coolest things I think they do here is emulating the third party they are addressing. When the "I'm so sick of speaking words" part starts, is a good example. They emphasize this by changed time and key, changing from the minor to a major (I think). It is interesting, since the chorus repeated is in the raised key, is this then internal monologue? Then the I, a detached psyche, addresses the conscious 'you'. Hmm ...

Is it music ala Gollum or?? So, I have to admit, this section messes with me:

I’m so sick of speaking words that no one understands
Is it clear enough that you can’t live your whole life all alone
I can hear you in a whisper
But you can’t even hear me screaming

I uber enjoy it, but it catches me almost every time I listen to it. First line is I and no one. The second line is you (ify all alone). Then, I and you. Lastly, you and me. So we first hear, someone expressing a feeling, addressed to a general (exclusive) audience. Then, is it you, generally again, or you specifically? I think it makes a difference: (1) you generally = no one cane, we all need someone, and (2) you specific = you are incapable, needy, dependend. I think Amy gives a long enough pause to separate lines 1 and 2 from 3 and 4. Line three is odd because we have the 'someone' presumably talking from line 1, addressing a you. If the you is general, it connects neatly with line 2, suggesting the person here notices the world. Perhaps the person is too connected to the world, they take note even of whispers. But if the you is specific it can be outward or inward. Outward it is most likely addressed to someone, someone trying to exclude the world i.e. Amy. Then line 4 makes perfect sense, 'you idiot, you don't even listen to me.' But, if the you is internal, the 'whisper' 'screaming' exchange changes. It results in an amalgum of 'I speak, no one understands, I'm so alone. I'm so alone that I hear myself when I whisper, but sometimes I'm so alone I don't even hear myself when I scream.' I like it ... it's dark. I really wish they'd given more to go on, but I like it :)

Again the male backgrounds add a not-so-kosher background. It's interesting, because I think they use a nonconventional third, instead of the normative third, in the counterpart for the male obligatos. It seems more prominent when Amy sings in the raised key at the end. Then the yeah yeah's (not listed in the lyrics) begin, and I think the male takes the melody, leaving the harmony to overlaid male/female backups and a chorus.

Anyways, see what you get when I can't think of other things to write about. Hope everyone had a good weekend.

~ Brian

Saturday, February 26, 2005

snow types

I woke up to snow this morning. Not so unusual for sweden. It's beautiful today, like down. Nice, big, fat flakes and almost no driving breeze so that hang lazily in the chill morning air. It's nice. It also got me thinkin about how much ugly snow we've had the last few days.

Fat snow. This is my favorite. It tends to be a little 'wet' but other than that it's really cool looking. It gives good ground cover. If we get the nice flakes like that it is usually pertty warm out. I like it when it falls in sheets and an updraft emanating from the buildings makes the snow move back up again. When it comes down real fast you can see the circulating eddies and air currents.

pissy snow. This is that tiny, sandy, dry snow. It gets in your eyes when you are walking even when there is no wind. I really hate it. So you walk with your head down and blink a lot. I imagine it is like a windy day in the desert. I don't know why but the thought of it makes me feel dirty.

Snain. Snow and rain. So not pleasant. It makes the existing snow turn to mush, festering with the street dirt to create an ultrastaining concoction. Of course later it turns to ice, which is always fun. I've seen at least 6 people eat it this week. Sucks I hope that the ice goes away soon.


Friday, February 25, 2005

Gym Attire

I would have posted several times today, but blogger has been decidely unavailable to me. For some reason blogger and my server were not communicating. Such is life, noncommunication.

I thought I'd do a small commentary on gym attire. This is a touchy subject for some people, but there is a local aspect to dressing for the gym. Variances in Swedish gym-going clothes speak of the local personality. American gym clothes tend towards perfunctory with some flair depending on the city you are in.

The Preppy. Swedish gym attire is preppy, there is no other way to describe it. The gym denizens don 'outter wear' seen in most abercrombie or american eagle catelogs. Apparently they think this is appropriate. It is fun to see people in black, styling cargo trousers and a rugby or polo shirt. Everything matches, including foot apparel.

The Showy. Even if the swedes lean to preppy, you have the main contingent of men who wear tight fitting shirts to exaggerate already neatly sculpted body parts -- with a general focus on the upper body. This is done in either a tee, polo or tank. I've noticed that the different styles serve different, often pratical purposes. The tee and polo (short sleeve) serve for general work outs, usually chest and triceps, back and biceps. You can pull up the sleeves to watch the smaller muscle groups work when you move to the arms, so the shirt serves a decent function. Rugby and long sleeve tees are for leg work outs. This makes sense since you don't NEED to see the upper body. Tanks are most often worn when someone is doing an arm-specific workout or a chest work out. I think, in part, that tanks show more of the out-lying chest muscle groups. Anyways, it's all for show. Tanks are also popular with the tatoo bearers, generally.

The conservative. Work out pants and large tee. The interesting thing about this getup is that only beginners really wear it. I noticed this right off, since it is uncouthe for the otherwise fashion conscious swede.

The casual. Can you imagine lifting in flip flops? Oh, it is not as rare as you'd think. The very hardcore lifters ALWAYS have shoes, but you get the teen to twenty somethings that come in sandals and board shorts. We were never allowed in the states for fear of injury. Shoes provide a little more stability, mainly in the ankle, that reduces injury when standing etc. In truth, I think it comes from the tort system, but shoes in swede are optional. I can imagine it hurts, but then again I pull more weight than most of the people who come in casual dress.

It is interesting that I even noticed this. I noted some of the differences when I first got here, but didn't really think on it for a while. I started thinking about it today when two guys came in in sandals and tank tops like they were headed for the beach. I'm usually in my own world at the gym, but it all just gelled for me today.

Hope all is well


Thursday, February 24, 2005

Thought on Lakrits

I am generally a fan. Lakrits, or licorice, is a scandinavia obsession. Seriously, the stuff is scary here. It comes in several varieties. Even the herbal remedies for colds is licorice flavored. Go figure.

Variations on a common theme. It comes in chew pastelles and long sticks, but it is generally the same. Sometimes rolled in salt, lakrits is easily separated from the other gummy candies available here. Generally, we avoid the black candies, since, by default, anything black in sweden is lakrits. To change it up a bit though, we may ADD things to the overpowering flavor. Typically, the swedes add mint or something nonpluse. Just remember, if it's black it's licorice ...

Outliers abound. Given that the mainstream product is black licorice with additives of salt or something equally as fun, there have to be wild variations. Peppar, red pepper spices, I'm guessing to counter the more common salt variety. Chocolate, to mind fuck all the normal people who like swedish chocolate and cant read the language yet. (it only happens once)

Kan Jang, the herbal remedy. This is a wonderful herbal remedy the Swedes bought from the Chinese back in the 60's. They's since mainstreamed it, available in any grocery, and marketed it as a quick results rememdy (snabb lindring). The culminating point though was when it became lakrits flavored. We all know, lakrits is potent, pungent and otherwise not very pleasant. If they ADDED the flavor though, the herbal stuff must taste REALLY bad. I can imagine it's like echinacea and golden seal (omg, death in a bottle). In either case, you dont' breathe while you take your dose, and it leaves your breath suprisingly minty fresh. BEst of all the herbal thingies WORK. Ask C, I've her hooked on it!

Um, so this did not turn out the way I thought it would. I've been a bit spacy today, so it's okay. "I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And, gosh darn it, people LIKE me." :)


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Site Meters ...

A site meter is really the coolest thing. I just put mine on this weekend, and it's like I can't stop watching. I am 'opening' my stats for a few days -- at least the website says you can do it. Scroll down to the bottom of the page under the main column, I think it says site meter or something. I have set it up, I hope, so that a click will take you to my charts etc.

The program I use is FREE. If you pay for it you get more stuff, but it gives me MOST of the cool stuff for free. C uses it and I think she pays for the search stuff. Apparently she gets tons of dirty searches referring to her page. Is wierd, it's pretty clean, except for the occasional 'boob' or 'male bits'. That's right, I said boobs. Ha, it is really tempting to look at the searches for a month though and see what they are like!

Cool charts of ... stuffs. Go see what I mean by clicking on it. My favorites are the time zones and organizations. Thanks to Simon Japan gets a 3% portion daily. Megan helps balance the swedish contingent, and the Auzzie/Franc contingent. India gets a few hits a day, then I get really cool hits from Brazil (I think, mostly portugues cites, I fumble through, but my portugues stops at about carnes and obrigado) and a ton of hits from my fun american/canadian friends back home. Who do not blog btw ... hint hint ... oh, except my sister. So I see all of this on the fun charts.

Operating systems and firewalls. It is que obvio when people are behind a firewall, I think I may have some readers in China, which would rock, because they show up as unavailable or "IP". Firewalls are cool like that. I can also tell who is running linux or Mac which is cool. I only know one person, Andysan, who runs a mac, so either he is checking my site 84329750892305 times a day, or there are other mac users.

Maybe I'm uber dorky? I have no clue if this interests anyone else. If you've crazy stories about a site meter post them :) They'd be alot of fun. I'm off to start working.

Hope everyone has a wonderful day. It's been snowing here for the last 11 hours. It's beautiful, but COLD. That is unusual. If it snows, typically, it is warm. Now it's like -8 :( Jatte inte bra.

Kram (hug)


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

picked out the croud

Okay, so I've mentioned this before. People will pick me out of a group of people, and just talk to me. Usually it is to ask directions. Today was no different. I just got back from the huge booksale down town, because I'm a total bookwhore. On my way home I passed through Normalmstorg.

This man and his wife stop me, of all the nice, open looking swedes they could choose. "Ursakta. Kan du prata engleska?" They ask politely, in pretty decent swedish. "Sure," I respond in my decidely american accent. "When does the trolley come? We've been waiting over 30 minutes!" I remembered that the trolley rarely ran, and I thought it was just the sumemr months, but I wasn't sure. It's lunch time so it should have come if it was running. "I'm sorry, but it probably only runs on weekends, though I only ever really see it in the summer." They both mumbled something sad.

Like the good swede I just left. I did my thing, I needed to get home and get ready for tutoring. I feel bad but I should have asked them where they were trying to go so I could direct them to tunnelbana or bus accordingly. Oh well, stockholm is uber easy to get around, they should be fine. It is still strange to me that people would pick ME of all people out of a bustling croud of swedes and try to get directions. It's kinda fun though.
My best,


felt up

As some of you may gather, I go to the gym. Not on the level of obsession, just consistently. You might even say religiously. I'm pretty devoted, I even do the peculiar diet things. Asks my friends, they can all tell you :) It's strange though, because I've an incredibly normal body - no 6 pack, no 18 inch guns, no man boobs, I don't even have the proper tell tell veins on my arms. In any event, the gym-going brought some unwanted attention last night at a class social.

I was speaking with RA from my class, catching up since he'd been out of the country, and we started talking about the gym. One of my classmates chimed in, remarking on my 'profile'. It was a nice compliment, which I took in the usual, awkward way. I was in a tee shirt and jeans mind you, so it's not like I was trying to show off physiqueage.

Then came the inadvertent feeling up. It started off innocently enough. "Look at the line here, and how it looks if you see it from the side." Finger tracing a line across my chest with the other hand rotating me by the shoulder. Attention is nice, but I really felt like a piece of meat as several of my classmates watched, silently, musing and trying to understand what my inebriated classmate was getting at. A few more imaginary lines and I smoothly changed the subject to lifting and sports generally.

Purposeful groping/feeling. Sooooo a Battery, though I received no harm, the touching was decidely unwanted. My classmate's hand was feeling my arm, asking me to flex. I, of course, tried to free my limb, to no avail. I guess the motion of removal caused it to tense, because the classmate persisted. I flexed and it was a done deal, i still felt a bit dirty, and I'm sure the resulting blush could light the Mines of Moria.

I should be thankful it wasn't my chest I guess :) I was just a little drunk, so I didn't really think about it much at the time. It did bother me a bit today though. Hopefully it won't happen again.


Monday, February 21, 2005

Music - a default conversation piece

I've got to admit, there are times when I am at a complete loss for words. Okay, no making fun. Anyone who knows me personally will not believe the previous statement -- I'm a talker, what can I say. The thing is, there is truly a knack to talking. If I'm ever at a loss I don't have to fill the spot, but you can probably catch my little conversation triggers. One of the most effective conversation techniques is to reflect what someone has said, to confirm that you have it right, then move on, hopefully incorpating your reflection into a trigger.

Music is a conversation trigger. I've yet to meet someone who doesn't listen to music. Even some deaf friends I had in college had music tastes -- especially when making out. In any case, another virtue of having interest in a particular subject is that most people have resulting opinions. This is great for conversation. If everyone has an opinion, it is just a matter of working it into the silence inbetween all the cricket sounds :) HEre are some of my favorites and different responses I notice -- and yes, I'm a total social dork and do this in my mind while I'm talking to people I don't know well. Sue me, it keeps my sporatic mind occupied.

1. What do you listen to? This is the general, I don't know what to talk about and I don't really care lets start talking about something. This is also what I call the cop out question. It's a trade question, I will tell you if you tell me, is rather inherent in the question. It can also be a bit selfish because when you ask this there is an implication of reciprocation later. Kind of like favors, but not as much fun ...

2. What kind of music do you like best? Much better question. This question has more of a peronal feel to it, because you are asking not only what they listen to but what they like. You usually get a run down of 'this I like, generally, but I REALLY like this band the best ..." People will typically save their favorite band or genre until later in the conversation. This question, seemingly, sets up a game to see who illicites the others' favorite bands first. I find that this question is easily misinterpreted, or rather that people project what they want to talk about, moving towards "what music is your favorite" becomes "what is your favorite band/song". You can always return to the subject in observation: "So it sounds like you are into ...?"

3. What do you listen to most often? This presents several options, giving several options: (1) what do you listen to most, (2) what do you listen to and how is that different from what you like, (3) who do you listen to most, (4) what types of music doe you listen to most etc. It's fun to see how people interpret it, because again, it is a projective statement -- the respondor chooses the direction by projecting their interest. I usually get the, "I always catch myself listening to top 40, but I really like ..." or "wow, it's been a while since I really thought about it, I guess I listen to ... but I really like ... more" Answers almost always come in this flavor, the I DO this but I LIKE This more. "It always seems that way though. I always end up listening to stuff I may not be a fan of just because it's on." yer sum up and move to next :)

4. What do you like the best about it? Good question. Not for the novice conversationalist or someone not into music. I happen to have a broad knowledge of music with some classical training, so fielding these requests tend to be pretty easy, until people get obscure. And people LOVE to get obscure. Everyone loves to have that band that no one really knows about. It's fun. For some reason, asking this question gets you to the favorite band issues. So much fun.

Remember to use buzz words: sell out, mainstream, underground, alternative that is no longer alternative, rock, no I mean real rock, gem (aka diamond in the rough), old school, and obscure. I'm telling you, entire conversations. It's fun, and you can carry entire nights doing it. I do it in spurts, but I think my class is catching on. I've actually reaped some fruits of my social consciousness though. I am trading songs with one of my classmates, branching out into new music genre's kew.

night all


Sunday, February 20, 2005

Thesis - love or hate?

C and D must hate me. C has a mountain of research, working diligently towards a list of endless footnotes. She will tackle the pre-beast before writing. It's such a smart thing to do, because I've written, and written, but I have um, anti-footnotes. I do have 10 pages of writing. I just have no citations yet.

I figured I'd post this to make C feel better. C has what I feel is the hardest part underway -- organizing your references. I, on the other hand, have all this writing with nothing to put to it. I wonder how far along I would be if I actually went through and did my footnoting as I went along ... then again, I can speculate till the cows come home, but it does me no good. In any case, kudos to C for doing the hard stuff first. See, for me the construction is pretty easy, it's finding other people who agree, or disagree, that kills me.

My professor asked for an outline with references. Oh, references abound, let me tell you, but I don't think he will be very pleased with the conformity of my submission on monday to his request. I think if I worked on my thesis for the rest of the day I'd not be able to complete all the references. I've a 5" research binder almost full ... speaking of which, I need to print more stuff. How frustrating is that?! Anyways, I wanted to take a break, and, of course, I chose to write some more. Sometimes I wonder if I'm just tard-o-licious. Hope everyone had a great weekend.

Sending my best,


Semlar anyone?

So I went on a quasi-date, you know, one of those, I have no clue who you are but let's get together and see what we have in common. The date was per se uneventful, but I did learn some very swedish things. Apparently utlander (fer'enners)are supposed to pick up on all these swedish nuances the moment we enter the country. I for one am all about the culture, but gosh darn it if I am going to be able to absorb it all in one go.

Semlar. These are kinda scary, overstuffed cream-puff-looking-monstrosities. I'm skeptical about any swedish sweets that are not godis (gummy candy). Imagine a cannonball sized, relaively dense flour thingie. Not sweetened. Cut off the top, dig out the center. Put a small filling of marzipan at the base of your new hole, and top with unsweetened whipped cream. Put the little cut-off-top back on like a hat. Garnish with flor socker (confectioners' sugar). The swedes traditionally make these for Fat-Tuesday (Stor/Tjock Tisdag, as explained to me, the day you eat alot to get you through the 40 day fast where you dont' eat anything ... you know, for 40 days). It is supposed to be a part of the engordar-bust tradition, but then they are supposed to leave until next mardi gras. It is strange since the reformation occured here in the mid 1600's (I think) that they would still follow the traditionally catholic observation. Commercialism reared its ugly face this year ... semlar are still available. If you are catholic, is it a sin to eat semlar during lent since they are an endulgance designed specifically for mardi gras? Interesting notion ...

Gustav the 12th. Okay, so for those not aware, scandinavia has rarely held its separated borders. At any given time, scandinavia encompassed several states we now consider individual. Apparently, under Gustav the 12, Sweden was at its largest, enclosing Norway, Iceland, Finland, some of the Baltic States, Germany and Denmark. Pretty impressive, I think, but Gustav the 12 met an untimely death when challenging the Russians. The entire empire went into mourning. His troops carried his carcass home for barrial, vacating their confrontation with the Russians. My date made sure I knew this after showing me a scene depicting the trip back to Stockholm from the battlefield. You can see it at the top of the stairs in National Museet. Clearly, the empire did not hold up without Gustav XII.

Glass blowing factory commissioned in late 1690's. Some of you may be vaguely aware of Swedish Crystal. With no intentions of offending, I personally think swedish crystal is superior to italian, french, waterford(ian?) crystal. There is something decidely beautfil about it. I recommend perusing some if you've never seen any: Orrefors and Kosta Boda Before 1690 the swedes imported all their glasswork. I noted this in the museum because there was only metal from sweden -- sweden is one of the more ore-rich nations in the world. The royal family commissioned a glass factory on Kungsholmen (one fo the 6 islands making up stockholm). The pieces produced already set sweden apart from other cultures. The utilitarian nature of the new swedish glass was the most remarkable feature, to me at least. However, that factory was gone again by mid 1800's. Sa Synd (what a pity).

So, some swedish culturage for my readers :)



Saturday, February 19, 2005

Always Encouraging

I wanted to post a brief message my professor sent me yesterday in response to a request for assistance in applying to the doctoral program here. I had trouble getting to sleep last night after reading over it. It's short :)

"doctoral plans – I’d be happy to encourage you. There are likely to be very few positions available here this year and lots of competition, but why not try. You need to start with a project description. We can discuss this."

This is the most responsive she's been to my requests for application since I started the program. I've sent her 6 emails on the subject. I did really well on the final exam, so I'm guessing that gave me a gold star in her book. Wish me luck!


Thursday, February 17, 2005

New Blogs? Please Post

I am looking to read more blogs! I read a few a day as it is, and I've been trying to branch out. If you read my blog and haven't posted before, post to this so I can read yours :)

My best


tempted to sleep

There is something odd about my sleep cycle. In sweden we have long, dark winters. Everyone knows that right? Well, most people respond to the dark by needing more rest, usually in terms of naps or longer sleep hours. I, on the other hand, shortened my sleep cycle to make room for going to the gym, doing work for school and still having time to play games etc.

Now I've a problem. I think my body got used to it being dark so much, and now that it gets light earlier and stays light longer, my body wants more sleep. Go figure. I've always been an odd person, but I've felt compelled to nap all week. Yesterday I didn't and I slept TERRIBLY last night. It's a vicious cycle, because now I'm uber tired and sleep is really gnawing at me. I think I'll nap. Shouldn't it be the other way around though? shouldn't I want to stay up now that it is lighter longer?

I guess I also wasn't writing a thesis last semester. That may be the big clencher. I've yet to do much work today, just open the document and puruse some research. I guess I could go through some research for an hour and tick that off as something I've actually accomplished besides eating, drinking, going to the gym and turing oxygen to carbon dioxide.

I'm going to go debate this ...


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Field of Dreams

I would not have watched this of my own accord, but damn it, my mom was watching it and I got caught up in it like always. I LOVE the "people will come Ray" scene.

James Earl Jones makes the speech. Then we are all, dude, Ray keep the farm, people will come. And Annie's brother is trying to get Ray to sell over the farm.

The fight ensues. This is when Ray's daughter stops breathing and Graham has to leave the field to save her life (he becomes the doctor). He gave up his dream without even thinking about it because she was in trouble, seemingly his true calling. I bawl, of course. I am a big believer in romanticism and self sacrifice I guess. Then all the ball players thank the Doc and tell him they will miss him.

Shoeless Joe shouts, "Rookie ... you were good." More crying. So not only was the dude 'good' but he gave up his dream for others FOR A SECOND TIME. Though, Ray did give him the first opportunity to play in the majors.

Then Terrance Mann gets the invite. SO Ray gets all pissed off because Terrance Mann gets to see what's out in the field, and he starts asking why. Why did I plow under my crops? Why did I sacrifice my time and jeopardize my family? "You are guests in my corn!" "Is that why you did it, because of You, Ray?" "If you build it "he" will come ... ease his pain ... " Seriously, I'm outta control.

I dunno, while there is a bunch of selfish reasons to do thing, I like to think that doing something selflessly will benefit people by default. There is always some good to come around whether karmic or otherwise. I helped a student in my class with research today and ended up getting more stuff for myself on accident. Maybe we should do more nice things and see if you get results you didn't expect ... just a thought :)


An American Abroad: The 12 Step Program revisited

I am doing this on a whim, so hopefully it makes sense. The follow is a set of guidelines for Americans living abroad. Mostly these are things I find helpful. I've several people tell me I'm not 'the typical american' they've met outside the US -- people are doubly shocked when I tell them I'm from Texas.

1. I am American. Don't deny it. Other cultures have the uncanny ability to pick out americans for whatever reason. hiding it, "only makes it worse!" Plus americans are terrible liars.

2. I am from a place, not a Unit. When introducing yourself say you are from City, State. Do not say, US. It's too general, and people will ask where in the States you are from. It's like a Brit or a German saying they are from Europe. Well, duh, but where. I find that people take it much better. Though I'm always prepared for the 'do you ride horses,' 'is everything bigger in texas?' etc.

3. I will be Fun without being Funny. Americans are really bad about jokes and trying to build immediate rapport with people. Wait an hour or so before you bust out with the southpark references, groups will appreciate it. Jokes and 'stories' don't usually open a shared conversation, whereas talking about current events or travels will.

4. I am a good person. While Megan likes to dismiss being american, it does not make her a bad person. In fact, most people who make this concession are the 'good guys'. People take social queues from introductions and body language. Keep your hands to your sides when you are meeting people, and use the "unfortunately" comment sparringly (preferrably at the beginning of a night).

5. I will let people talk to me first. Make your rounds, then let people come to you, or ask your new acquaintences to introduce you. This isn't terribly important, but you get to let someone else introduce you. It is also a good way to see how people percieve you in a social context. Overly outgoing Americans may find they meet more people this way after they get used to the 'meet, greet, now let them come to me,' routine. Participants in Greek Life in Ugrad know exactly what I'm talking about.

6. I will be myself. This is the kicker. While it sounds like the above changes people, it is most effective to incorporate the above in your own style/personality. Having peer counseled for a while I can tell you that natural execution is 10000 times more effective than rehearsed lines and reservations.

7. I will smile. So americans smile, a LOT. The nice thing is that we do it sincerely most of the time, but we've a terrible habit when we first meet people to smile as part of a greeting. This is appropriate, and works with the above. Some of my friends suggested that smiling all the time makes it seem insincere. Try a casual half smile instead of a full-faced-squinty-eyed-smile. Btw smirking is an american trademark that I've heard makes us hot ... a smirk is a casual half smile with flirtatious intent ... be careful with this one when meeting significant others :)

8. I will maintain a neutral personal space. You may have to give a little on this one depending on where you are. Try not to cross your arms, which puts you in a defensive posture. On of the easiest ways to create space is to hold your drink in front of you sternum. Other ways I've seen is to turn your body slightly so that you are not completely facing the person. Encourage group conversation, this usually results in a social 'circle' that creates communal space.

9. I will be transparent with my judgments. Give people a chance. Do not discount people you do not like the first time you meet them. If nothing else, try to find one common ground. Afterwards, you can make a decision, but just try not to be dismissive.

10. Eating. Do not hover over food if you are at a party. Eat before you go. If you are at dinner do not offer to 'clean' someone's plate. Be open about sharing your food. This is appropriate if you are a sharer, but be open about it. Offer only once. If you've a table of nonsharers, they will remember the offer, believe me :)

11. I will speak in my indoor voice. Americans talk on the 4 - 10 scale. Indoor voices are 2 - 4. They is something in the nuance of our language that carries and fills space. Try to keep this in mind, especially when you are talking about something requiring emphasis. Drag out the words or accent them rather than raising your voice. It works pretty well. This is particularly true in the subway or other public areas.

12. I will listen, but speak my mind. Do it, in that order only. Using acknowledgment words are particularly influential: I see what you are saying, that is a good point, I hear you/that, I can see that etc. Acknowledging people allows for empowerment and recognition. These are powerful social tools that opens them to your thoughts, and usually leads to more productive conversation.

Another recommendation, though not really a big issue, is Grey, Blue and Black over colors in general. Americans are notorious bright color wearers. Grey is terribly safe. Gap/Banana are your friends >:) And no, blue on blue do NOT match I dont' care what people tell you.

Hope you guys enjoyed!



Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Americans Abroad Anonymous - 12 Step program?

My name is Brian, and I'm an American. I live with it every day. It is not something I'm altogether proud of, but like Alcoholism, it is an immutable trait -- disease is just too strong here, because being who I am is an amalgum including elements of my American roots. I do, however, have issues with 'being american'. Especially now that I'm abroad, it seems more important. I've made a silly list of things I catch myself doing all the time ... perhaps I can mold it into a prefunctory 12 step program?!? :)

1. Loud and verbose. I've always kind of mumbled. It just works out well when I'm abroad to speak in an even keeled tone. It suits my personality, but I know most people do assume americans are loud and outspoken.

2. Speaking your mind. Americans tend to be decent listeners, but for the most part it is selfish. Americans like to listen because they like to participate and speak their minds. I personally hate to repeat something that's already been said, so I always look for the addition. I am also not afraid to tell someone I disagree.

3. Be Agressive, be, be agressive. Probably the biggest clencher. You can usually pick out an American by persistance in a losing battle, siding with the underdog, or really pushing an issue. With 2 and 3, Americans tend to dominate a conversation.

4. Talk to anyone. Americans so are willing to talk to anyone, with exception. Of course I try to tone it down, "when in Rome." The interesting thing is that I have more swedes and utlanders ask me for directions than any swede. I've one of THOSE faces I think. Interesting ... maybe this one works both ways, how very karmic.

5. Smiling fools. Americans love to smile. Oh yes, we have those ones who have stone faces, but in general, Americans are "smiling, happy people." Though, the happy is questionable. We do smile in a heartbeat though. I am one of the quick to smile. Then again I have a very personal nature about me ... it's an essential element of my allure I promise >:)

6. Personal space issues. We like our personal space. Americans like a happy medium between connection with people and being in my personal space. For an american personal space is about arm's length. Anything closer when you first meet someone is intimate, aka one nighter. Ha, well, otherwise we will cross arms and make other body signals to create evident space. I tend to let this one slide.

7. Quick friends. Americans can be exceptionally quick friends. We look for commonality everywhere. It is akin to assymilate or be cast out. Hmm, how very Conserva-MacCarthy of us ... I look for common connections all the time. Then again, I also believe what I learned in peer counseling in undergrad, "We are more alike than we are different." It is true.

8. Quick Enemies. I think 7 and 8 couple in terms of being judgmental. Americans are judgmental, but who isn't. As tolerant as everyone swears they are, there is always an underside. I think this also contributes to the american fakeness rampant in our pop culture ... oh, I know you know what I'm talking about; melrose, 90210, OC, reality TV ... need I go on?

9. Eaters. Americans will eat at the drop of a hat. As a whole americans will try anything. I think there are a few flavors on this topic: (1) latcher, (2) traditionalist, (3) explorer, (4) conservative. The Latcher will try stuff, but likes to get small things then sticks to them for the entire course through a country. Traditionalist won't deviate from their experiential norms and rarely try anything new (meat and potatoes type). Explorer is always looking for new things, and will try just about anything. They are also the ones who are caught up on all their shots and know what on the menu can kill you. Conservatives like to try new things within a margin of "I'v heard this is good I shoudl try it just for the experience."

10. Sharers. Americans LIKE To share. Omg whether it is dinner or our personal lives, everything is fair game. Are you going to eat that french fry? These are the best mushrooms I've ever tasted, want to try? OMG this is terrible, want to taste? Have you ever done THAT with the rabbit? This one time at band camp ...

11. Dress Americane. So not our fault. We grew up with a certain style, and it is completely dependent on where you grew up and who you hung out with. I think that is relatively true of cultures in general. We do have our staples though: Jeans, ball caps, flip flops, shorts, sneakers (white esp.), and track suits (esp. on international flights b/c they are so darn comfy).

12. Pop culture. We are the embodiment of pop culture. On some level and american has a complete saturation. I, for example, am a big kid: (1) video games, (2) movies, (3) anime, (4) sports, (5) TV. I'm ADD, possibly ADHD, so I've an excuse for being 'so well rounded' but an american by fault has some pop culture exposure.

Hmm, this went longer than I thought, and dinner is ready. I'll fingure out a creative 12 step program later. It is clear though, that Americans are a marked people. We don't necessary stick out, but we really are everywhere. It is not necessarily a bad thing to be notes as an American, but it usual a prejudicial point. Talk soon



I go to tutor in about 30 minutes. I'm really excited about several things but I still have my reservations. This is my first time to tutor in English, but I should do okay.

The kid is about 14. His mom likes to come with him to tutoring. I tried to set-up a really casual environment, so we can just relax and use English in a more social context. By being social you learn both the necessary and the short-cut words and phrases necessary to have good communication skills. I used to tutor kids just younger than this guy in maths and sciences, so it should not be so bad. I just worry about his mom being there, it is pretty distracting. I wonder sometimes why she insists on being present. I guess she is the payor though.

I've always wanted to teach. I am just taking the long way around I guess. After undergrad my parents threw an absolute FIT when I said I wanted to teach. Their response was, more or less, what a waste of a perfectly good education. Then again, they also refused to support my interests in medical school. 10 - 12 years is an awefully long time to go without parental and family support emotion or otherwise. So, three days out from my MCAT (med admission exam) I canceled my seat and started looking, blindly, for something else that 'might possibly interest me'. Big mistake.

I ended up sitting for the GRE (SAT for grad school). I did really really well on the logic section without studying. So, I hired a career advisor to help me. She, of course, encouraged me to apply to law school. I'd taken all the personality exams so we checked out my suitability and I was in the 80th percentile. Collecting myself, I compiled a list of 10 law schools with several reaches. I sat for the LSAT and did mediocre. I was not well suited, even at the outset, to go to law school. Anyways I went. I decided in my first year that law practice was definitely not the thing for me, but Academia really piqued my interests. This was new, because teaching I always thought was just HS etc.

I started to focus on alterate ways to use a JD. of course, one can go straight from Law school to teaching, but we have to keep in mind, Law school was NOT a breeze for me. I've since gone to the next degree in law and hoepfully am in line for academic positions. I've gotten more teaching experience in an international program than I even would have expected. It is really great. Being abroad also challenges my patients and openmindedness. It's truly a dynamic that ever professor should have to endure before stepping into a class room. Look at me, I had my sights set on teaching professional students and I'm teaching a 14 yo and loving it :)

I need to get ready to go. I hope that everyone had a good day. I know that some of you had very special days yesterday :) Shouts out to Megan who got a text from a crush ... awww ... to have a crush >:) That, is for another post. hugs to all


Monday, February 14, 2005

A Sad Valentines?

I am often of the mind that things happen for a reason. Certain things in life pass, almost unnoticed, but end up making a huge difference. One of my biggest fears, even since I was young, has been to lose someone I love without them knowing it. I tend to be pretty open with my feelings, but it is always good to tell someone you love them. It means more than you may know.

I read a blog linked to BridalBeer's (see post 2 days ago). The blog talked about a friend who had passed. I don't know what he died from, but I do know he was loved by friends. Even though I'm anti valentines, perhaps this is a day when I should aknowledge my love of others. Taking in friends and family -- I secretly want to add in some imfatuations, but I'm not sure that's the same thing. It is a bit selfish to limit your love to only one person, when we all truly love more than one at any given time. I think hallmark missed it .. I think valentines would be better suited to gifting your love on others. We can still shower that special one with gifts and affections.

A day to give love to all? It seems like we have no days that are nondenominational where we can usher in love of others and spread it through cards, phone calls and candy. How did we miss this one? How did Marketers miss it?

This is my call out to my friends and loved ones: What times we share, paths crossed and left, I take with me a part of that meeting. It is with me always, helping me grow, reminding me, moving me on. To all those brief encounters and long term loves I send to you my thoughts and my heart. Happy Valentine's Day, My loves ... All.

"To the world you may be one, but to one you may be the world."

My very warmest and loving regards,


Sunday, February 13, 2005


HA. Maybe men really do have that time of the month. Over the last three days I've been so touchy it surprises even me. It really doesn't have to be much. At least it snowed today, which is always nice.

Maybe it is linked to reading. I've been reading the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. Pretty good. His writing is a little heavy for me, compared to David Eddings (Belgariad/Mallorean). I get through it easily enough, but I think it affects my personality. Is it possible to write in such a way that it irritates the reader, or envelopes the reader enough that mere reading makes the reader insensitive. I'll have to think on it.

I got my first anti-valentines :) so loving it, thank you C. It is not that I am truly anti, because anti really gives the subject credence etc. I am more apathetic. It's like any other day, though significantly tainted by commercialism and hallmark. I don't imagine tomorrow will be much different from any other valentines. Though, it is my parent's anniversary.

A little irritated, a little apathetic, maybe even a little swedish.


Saturday, February 12, 2005

working out ...

I've been back to the gym now for alomst three weeks. I am finally getting back intot he swing of things. You know, that set-in of holidy induced atrophe that stubbornly thwarts your attempts to progress. I think it's a conspiracy somehow, but whatever, I'm past it.

There is a funny thing about the gym. I've finally, after two or so years of lifting to fend off my somewhat 'heavy' genes I carried through undergrad and part of law school, am comfortable going to the gym and lifting. I am happy with my weight progression, though slow currently, and i'm really enjoying the nice swelling or 'jacked' look when I'm done. It's nice. i've always a thing for veins, and, well, mine are starting to 'come in'. Well, at least I thought I was doing well and was happy with everything until I looked around ... and that is where the funniness starts.

I've generally nice legs. For the most part men neglect their legs, even though they are the largest testosterone producing unit on your body give mass and body ratios. Having played soccer and rugby, my legs have never been a problem. There are guys who lift outrageous amounts of weight but don't touch their legs. it is really sad, you've a tremendous body, but you look funny walking on stilts. Women are much better about balancing things, though they don't do their chest as much. Dont' fear the balance people, it really makes a difference.

So I was liking my body changes, I thought. Today I did shoulders, a small muscle group that always shows well when you finish. I will hurt terribly tomorrow, but whatever, it's a good hurt :) I was thinking, wow, I'm doing a good job, I am way far from where I was two years ago when I was F.A.T. (fat and toady). The problem being that you do not stand your two selfs together so your mind plays tricks on you. And dont' even get me started on comparing with others ...

Okay, so I will venture the comparison with others. I am relatively focused in the gym, but every now and they you will watch people doing new things, or maybe people doing exercises you usually do just a check. I also notice when people have a good balance on their bodies, probably since I find that attractive on some elemental level. And no, they are not always men, damn it >:( The only problem is that I get very comfortable with particular parts of my body, but then see someone else who has superior somethings or others, and I being to doubt that I'm not actually doing very well. It's very tough because my body varies and then I compare it to others, and it is difficult to get a sense of where my body should be. It's frustrating to some ends, but it keeps me working. Maybe I will get a personal trainer and see what I can do.

my best


Friday, February 11, 2005

Some Fun Blogs ...

I am suddenly obsessed with new ways to occupy my time. Of course it is time well spent when you reap something from the sewing of fruitless seeds right?! I really enjoyed this blog today, I'll add more as I read along :)

Bridal Beer.



Considering the time of year, and the newness of the semester, many would guess that this is a post about school reading. They would be wrong. My mom just got back from London, bearing the next few books in a fantasy series I'm reading. I am absolutely devouring the pages. I read for three hours straight. Though, I'm really starting to feel that it wasn't such a good idea to read so long without a break.

My mom thought I was sleeping. I've been harassed three times since emerging from my room. I, apparently, am grouchy. Probably due to the fact that I took asylum in my room from the noise in the common areas. What do you expect, when you've two grown ups shouting about stupid shit. Do your stuff, let the other see it, revamp etc. None of this continuous yelling and raising of voices. It really gets old, and then they wonder why I'm cranky? I guess it was more at the accusation, "Well, how long did YOU sleep, you aren't going to get any sleep tonight." Hmm, my internal response was DIE MOTHAH PHUCKAHS, but of course I retorted with my best,"No, actually, I was reading." There was more, but I won't bore you with it here.

C and I went for a walk. C and I went walking to the Gamla Stan today. So much fun. The day was absolutely beautiful, maybe 10 and sunny, clear skies. We are purusing different photo spots and taking in as much sun as we can get when we head towards Gamla Stan. We diverged from our normal path, and went onto the lower part of the island containing the Riksdag (Swedish Parliament). It was total craziness. I mean, really really cool. We took lots of pictures.

There were guys surfing in the channel. No joke. Wet suits, kneeboards and strategically placed flags over the water. REally uber cool actually that these guys did this. On the bridge from Stockholm to the Riksdag people secured a line with a handle on the end. The lower part, where C and I were, was the entry point for the surfers. They would thrust themselves into the moving water (REALLY moving fast from all the snow meltage), and jimmy their way across to the center of the wake. C got several pictures before the guy's arms gave out, it was truly amazing to watch. Damn swedes, they can take any kind of cold craziness! All in all it was a good day.

Sending my best,


Thursday, February 10, 2005

Productively Unproductive

So what else is new? I've to ask you, because I've been neglecting all my 'new' things and just moving right into the same old stuff. It's strage, you'd think I have a thesis to write, things to research, jobs to find etc. So not happening. not today at least.

I got up this morning. With the premise of being productive I hauled my ass out of bed. I stumbled into the bathroom, did business and willed my sleep ladden limbs into the living room. Dad, cheerful even when dying of a cold, asked me in his best trying-to-be-healthy-voice how I'd slept. I grunt, usually a sign of good sleep. He mumbled something about having to get ready for work early, and how he just wasn't feeling like it.

I immediately offered to make eggs. He was like, dude, totally. Well, not really, but you know how dads can be. They mean to say dude, totally, but they are usually like, "yeah that would be great." So I made uber good cheesy eggs. He seemed to enjoy them, so that is what really counts. I vaguely remember suggesting eggs for breakfast last night, but I can't remember. Maybe THAT's why I got up this morning ...

He did, in fact, leave early. I moped around for a bit, then played some Kingdom of Loathing. If you've never played PLEASE give it a whirl. it is dry, satyrical, and just uber fun. They limit your turns so you can't get too obsessed. Though, I ended up playing for over 4 hours this morning ... believe me ... it is easy to do when you've things to get done. It was truly a morning well spent, except that it cut severely into my research and writing time.

I had lunch. I turned on Bridget Jone's Diary that I had not finished last night as I tried to go to sleep. It was pretty noneventful. I nuked some svensk kottbullar and added on a fun salad. Bridget still gets the shaft, all terms implied and purposeful :), from Daniel Cleaver. You know, that never changes, every time I watch, it's the same thing. But, alas, I watch anyways. I checked email a few times before turning bridget off. I still have trouble getting all the way through the movie unless I'm napping or studying.

I did some work. I opened my file. It sat there. I sat there. We didn't have a synergetic moment for an hour or more. After about my third glass of water I figured one of us had to initiate. After a few key strokes though, we were really moving. A whole page in 25 minutes, just think what kind of damage I could do if I actually FOCUSED for an hour or so. Then it was time for water again. I think my file has declared me irretrievably broken, because we got nothing done for the next hour. I hmphed, and it autosaved, in concert ever 5 minutes or so. That's about as far as we got. Fun, I guess, but just not how I wanted to spend my afternoon.

C and I went to see Ray. C called and gently reminded me where the theater was -- hint hint, dumb ass you haven't called me and it's over near Roadmansgatan. good excuse to stop working :) Ray was phenomenal btw. I highly recommend it. I cried 8 times. Maybe more. However wrote the family portions of the movie did a fantastic job! Not to mention that using flashbacks allows you to develop attachment to the character, then you realize how terrible some of things in their life was. Omg, bawling at one point. I really thought I'd loose it and start the heavy breathing in, raspy, heaving sobs. Luckily the damn thing ended pretty quick after that. good movie though. Take tissue.

I got home and made dinner. Like always I got all domesticus when I got home. I entered the usual routine: put something on, dinner is at 8. See, in our family, we revolve (not by my choice) around the TV. Simpsons come on at 8, Family Guy at 8:30. hence, we plan dinner accordingly. We had two hour chicken with herbs and spinach on the side. Uber tastig. Then I futz around and played some gameboy. Now I'm here :) Hmm, a day productively avoiding productivity. I should find a way to market and sell this ... A 12 step program to productive nonproductivity, if you actually finish the program you've failed! lol

My best


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Nada Finga

ACK, so I've been writing. It's been going okay so far, but damn does it take a long time. I don't mean academic writing either. Well, unless you are a fiction PhD or something, then it is academic. I definitely have a new respect for some of the mroe prolific fantasy authors. Though, I can imagine that once you are really able to devote yourself to the project it comes much easier.

I keep sending stuff to my sister. I mean, it's really the same thing over and over again. She's still sick though, so it really hard for her to sit down and give good feedback. I need to acknowledge that I understand that, but sometimes just getting SOME feed back really helps. Even if it is just, dude, fix this character or what about this side of the story. She has trouble keeping a train of thought, so her comments will probably resemble my writing -- all over the place. I guess my mind is truly nonconforming. I just write better when I can skip to different sections and type up a bunch of free flowing ideas. It's very stream of consciousness-esque.

Valentines day is CRAPOLA. I've never thought it was a big deal. I made a total mistake when I dated J because I totally didn't think about it. We were not 'coupled' in the traditional sense, so I was out with friends doing shots like a single person. Okay, let's be frank, everyone should be able to do shots on valentines day. It really was great. Coming home to J was not so great. There'd be plans for a really nice dinner, candles all over the place, a bath, and southpark. I was stunned, and drunk. You can imagine my response. Wow, I'm soooo sssorrrry. It didn't go so well. It was, also, the first valentines J spent alone. Definitely double whammy. In any event I plan on not celebrating as usual. Maybe I'll start a valentines nonvalentines tradition. Though I could never take full credit for it -- there are definitely people who had the idea WAY before me. I'd like to secretly think I came up with it though.

Mardi Gras is gay everywhere but New Orleans? Apparently. D was telling me that mardi gras in london is like pride. Wow, I thought, that makes anti sense: Mardi Gras = bunch of catholics binging before they give up stuff. And now it's a gay thing? Um, did I miss something. The catholic church is not a big fan of Family, so how did these two cross cultures mingle? The farse is apparently a world wide tradition for gay pride. D told me it had something to do with all the dressing up. I just figured it must have been shiny things and a chance to dance and get wasted. Sounds like all the other circuits I've ever heard of, just with more wigs and body painting.

Next Year and beyond. I've really started to consider applying for an advanced degree here in Stockholm. I really like it here. The city is sweet, but the people leave a little to be desired. I have a good friend base, and I like the university. I've the department head who would be my advisor, so I think it all looks good. The only problem is that it is SOOO competitive. It is like a 1 in 10 admission rate. That just scares me. That and you have to write out a four year research proposal in 10 pages. omg. I'm already tense just thinking about it. BUT the program is only four years, gives a hefty stipend, and allows me to teach. What more could you want?!!?!?

My hair is finally long enough. I can FINALLY Consider cutting my hair. I am really itching to get rid of it at this point. I SO love having it, I've, let's be honest, nice hair. It is curly and wavy in a fun way, and pretty soft. It's a lovely red/brown color, and it keeps my ears warm. I am still going to hack it off. I am trying to work it out so I can get it cut and mailed from here. It just may cost me stuff. I think everyone should consider doing it though. It really is worth it. Check it out:

I'm signing off, hope everyone is doing well!


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