Comment from a reader

This blog apparently has a wider readership than I thought. I made a crack in my last post about chemtrails and it drew a comment from an interesting source today. Here is a screenshot of the comment:

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Someone by the name of Ariel, with a logo no less, took issue with my chemtrails crack and purports to show me the error of my humor. Hmmmm. That logo looked familiar. Sure enough, Ariel is a brand of laundry detergent here in Sweden. In fact we have two boxes of it sitting in our bathroom/laundry room right this moment.

I have no idea why a laundry manufacturer is reading my blog in the first place. In the second place why is “Ariel” referring me to a link that supposedly explains why some people think chemtrails are just a different form of contrails. From a purely logic standpoint, this information is coming from a wrong source. It should not be coming from a washing powder manufacturer but more appropriately from the Ministry of Jet Exhaust here in Sweden. (They have a ministry of gender equality here, why not one for jet exhaust equality too.)

Ariel provides a link with some interesting information about contrails which I checked out and whoever wrote it gives a compelling explanation for why some contrails disappear in a minute while others last all day. For anyone interested, the link is: http://contrailscience.com/why-do-some-planes-leave-long-trails-but-others-dont/.

Again, more fallacious logic from Ariel. The writer of the link fails to address the notion that while the information given in his article may be perfectly valid, his argument does not close the door on the possibility that there might be other things in the sky coming out of airplanes as well. Nor does the link address this little goody that is all over the internet: a purported USAF chemistry manual from 1990 on the subject of, you guessed it, chemtrails. Here is a sceenshot of the cover:

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Now, if this is a bogus manual, I still have to give the people who put it together applause for duplicating the design sense of the U.S: military circa 1990. This thing looks like the catalogue where I used to buy rockets when I was a kid from Estes Industries in Colorado. Anyway, this manual looks and reads like the real deal, all about chemistry with charts, tables and formulas. Here is the link so anyone interested can download the manual and break out your basement lab equipment: http://beforeitsnews.com/chemtrails/2013/03/breaking-air-force-chemtrails-manual-available-for-download-2-2430684.html.

You can read both links and make up your own mind. I personally don’t know what to think but these things are appearing in our skies more and more frequently and I have heard no plausible explanation. I have not even heard a debate about the subject, but I nor anyone else I know ever saw these chemtrails before the 1990s, it might be interesting to know just what is going on in our skies.

Thanks for your comment, Ariel. You make a good laundry detergent!

America’s contributions to Sweden

I went to my first “real” football game today in Sweden.  Not “association football” but the real thing, from an American perspective at least. Yes, they play American football in Sweden and the sport does have some popularity in the country. It probably ranks somewhere below curling but above (maybe) darts. 

Anyway I found out about this one day during my Swedish classes when, on a break, I was wandering around outside the school and saw an office for the Halmstad Eagles with football helmets in the window. The office remained closed for the duration of my classes but my curiosity was piqued and I discovered that, yes, they do play football here and yes, Halmstad had a team. It was founded in 1986 but closed down a number of years ago due to lack of funding but started back up again just recently.

There are actually two American football leagues in Sweden, an upper and lower league. Halmstad is in the lower league, having just started back up a year ago. A guy I talked to told me that the Gothenburg team once had a running back who once played for the Detroit Lions and they just gave him the ball on every play and let him do the rest. I also read that one of the teams on Stockholm had a quarterback this year who played in the NFL briefly. There are leagues in Germany at least plus the NFL Europe league, so the sport does have some following throughout the continent. NFL games are televised on Sundays and Mondays throughout the season but college games will be hard to find now that ESPN America folded its tent n August.

Mariette’s mother is an avid sports photographer and we made a date to check out the action of this season’s last home game against the Hässleholm Hurricanes. 

ImageThe game took place on another really, really nice day. The weather has been great since the beginning of May, going on FOUR MONTHS now, unheard of by anyone I have asked. The Eagles, in green, scored first and kicked off. It was pretty much all Hässleholm for the rest of the afternoon, unfortunately. 

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The players come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the linemen look like NFL players, big guts and all though I did not see any 300 pounders. The quality of play is about the level of a middling high school team, though there were several good pops throughout the game.

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The passing game for both teams was decidedly second-rate and that is being charitable. 

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The home crowd. A guy was calling the game over a PA system and between plays there was hard rock/heavy metal music playing all game long. The lingo is a mix of Swedish and English (“incomplete pass,” “touchdown,” “extra point,” “tight end”).

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Six officials called the game and did a passable job, I thought.

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Throughout the game I noticed another American contribution to Swedish society and by the 4th quarter it was hard to ignore any longer.

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I am talking, of course, about chemtrails. The planes were out spraying much of the day. I noticed it this morning while out walking the dogs and by late in the afternoon it was looking pretty bad. I never noticed these in Sweden until around 4 or 5 years ago but since we moved here two years ago they are becoming more frequent. More and more people are becoming aware of them but there is no debate about them, which makes them a perfect theme for my next art exhibition, “Our Beautiful Skies.” Here’s one painting of several I have completed so far:

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This is a beautiful view near our house. 

Anyhow, the game was fun. Mariette’s mom got some good shots, her dad did some funny sketches, the crowd had a good time, the players played hard and Halmstad got waxed about 41-12. I talked to an American who has lived in Halmstad since 1970 and supports the team. He said that when he moved here Sweden was without question the best country in the world and thought it has slipped since then it is still pretty damn good. I agree.

The season ends next week and begins again next spring. I’ll plan to be a more frequent spectator. They are just getting back into the game so they will improve and it will be fun to watch their progress. 

All in all, a really enjoyable afternoon. Go, Eagles!

 

 

Museum Day, but that’s not the half of it

Every year all the little country museums (and there are quite a few) hold open houses on the same day, usually the first Sunday in August. I’m not sure if it is the entire country or just this region but they draw a lot of visitors and it helps keep traditional Swedish culture alive.

Years ago, Mariette’s paternal grandfather started collecting artifacts from 19th and early 20th Century Swedish home and farm life. As a builder he often renovated or built new homes for people and began saving the “junk” other people no longer wanted. It became a passion and he collected literally tons of stuff. An antique dealer from the U.S. would go nuts if let loose in the museum he established.

Mariette’s paternal grandmother had the idea to create a foundation to run the museum, not only to make the artifacts available for people to appreciate but also to keep the family together, since all five of their children are the museum trustees today.

We have been to a few of these now and today was especially wonderful for a number of reasons. The least of these was the (again) perfect summer weather. It is 3 months and counting of spectacular weather throughout much of the country but especially here on the west coast. The bigger reason was getting together with many members of Mariette’s family who are truly a special bunch. Anyway, photo time.

ImageImageThat’s the museum. It was once where Mariette’s grandparents lived before they build another house on the property and turned this place into the museum.

But before Swedes do anything, they chow down, especially when the family gets together.

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The star of the proceedings was the newest member of the family, 4 week old Lucas Braggins. The parents toyed with giving him the middle name Bilbo but wisely decided better.

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Here is new Mom Helena and her cousin Elin holding Lucas.

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Now that I look at Lucas a little closer, he does have a potential hobbit ear going there. But what do I know. He will probably grow out of it and just become a normal happy Swede. His mom is one of the sweetest people I have ever known and his dad is a New Zealand transplant, newly emigrated here and also a fabulous guy. This is one lucky kid.

Here is Daddy Craig and me chatting it up.

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Anyway, after a great meal it is time to throw open the museum doors. Not so fast. What about desert?

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This is a roll cake filled with currant jam or something and topped with whipped cream and wineberries (aka currants). I couldn’t believe how good my first helping  was so I had to verify it several more times. So did Craig.

Okay, now we can go inside.

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I have posted photos of the place before so today I took some different shots. Also, the family put out other items that I had not seen before. They probably have enough stuff to fill out a space two or three times the size of the current space.

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Animal traps.

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The museum has around 800 oil prints which were very popular in the 19th Century and they have been loaning them out to museums in Gothenburg and Malmö.

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This one of the polar bear preparing lunch for her cubs is one of my favorites.

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This figure is of Mariette’s great grandfather done by the sculptor who did the other figures you have seen.

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These are some really old phonograph players and radios. Mariette’s Uncle Ejve used to own an electronics repair business until he bought a forest and became a lumberjack.

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When he is not chopping wood he plays some fine Swedish folk music on the fiddle. And did I mention that he can eat more than anyone I have ever known? He is the Swedish Kobiyashi (of hot dog eating contest fame). He and his wife Gunilla have entertained us on Midsommar celebrations with their traditional costumes, folk dancing and music. They recently went to Germany with their choir and performed there. Evje must 70 and Gunilla just retired, but for many Swedes retirement simply means getting more active in life.

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One of the visitors drove up in this sweet old Volvo.

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Cousin Elin work for H&M in Gothenburg and likes her ink.

Image It must have been two hours since we ate, so that means it is time for fika, i.e., coffee and cakes.

The open house wound down around 5:00 and we headed back to Halmstad (about 25 miles to the south). To top off the day we went for Italian ice cream at Riccardo’s which is right next to a nature preserve in the middle of nowhere. People come from all over for some really, really good ice cream, us included.

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And finally, for no other reason than it happened one evening when I was out walking the dogs on the golf course, a mama moose and her mooslings getting a drink from the water hazard on #3.

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And finally, finally, a shot from a recent trip with Mariette’s dad to the Mjellby art museum, also in the middle of nowhere (but which gets some really fine shows because the founder of the museum is very well connected).

Image  If you are getting the idea that it has been a really good summer, you’d be right. (The water temperature a couple days ago was 77 F. but that’s another story.)

Weekend in Bohuslän

We just returned from a fabulous weekend in a part of the country we had not visited before. About 100 miles north of Halmstad is an archipelago called Bohuslän. Named after a Norwegian castle from the Middle Ages, the archipelago consists of around 3,000 islands and 5,000 smaller islets that jut out into the North Sea. An old friend of Mariette’s invited us up for the weekend and we had a blast.

First, here are Anca and her husband Magnus along with Prada and me.Image

They are laid back Swedes, which is not unusual when your taxes go to programs that take a lot of stress out of everyone’s lives. We drove up on Friday and stayed at their house which is on the island of Orust, the largest in the archipelago

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Your typical beautiful, comfortable Swedish house. It was build in the late 1600s but the only part of the original house still there is a wall under the stairs. We should have taken some pictures of the inside. Oh, well.

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Views of the nearby lake and surrounds.

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After a super seafood dinner and enjoyable conversation, we spent Saturday sightseeing around the island.

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This was a resort area about a mile and a half from where we were staying. You can imagine why Swedes get so happy during summer, especially one like this where it has been nice for 2 1/2 months now, which is unheard of as far as I  know.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageThen we drove to the other side of the island to a fishing village called Möllesund. Notice the freshly painted buildings.

ImageIn fact, it looked to me that every building in the town had been painted within the last couple of years. There must be a city ordinance at work here or the city fathers embarked on a tourist attraction campaign to spruce the place up or something. It really impressed me at least. Möllesund is a really pretty fishing village.

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After another fabulous Swedish summer grill fest we headed back this morning and happened upon a caravan of classic cars, which are quite popular in Sweden, towing some classic camper trailers. They pulled into the same gas station as we did and I got some shots. These campers are the real old style trailers and you would be amazed when you see them opened up how much more is in there besides a sleeping pad. 

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Seeing these lovingly restored and maintained vehicles put the cherry on top of a fabulous weekend as well as a pleasant distraction from the fact that gas is 9 bucks a gallon here. Not even that can take the edge of this summer, though. And the forecast is for continued happy weather! I must remember to pinch myself.

 

 

Big Finish to the Week

Today was the last day of SM Veckan or Swedish Championship Week. There was a lot going on and I took in as much as I could. Much of it was happening at the Halmstad Arena so that’s where I headed.

I arrived just in time to see the conclusion of the Ultimate Frisbee title game. For some reason the photos on my cell phone are blurry when I zone in as I had to do here.

ImageImageAfter the game, both teams got together for a love fest. The camera crews caught all the action and interviewed players after the game.

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But today I was after bigger game. I read up on roller derby before going so I could make sense of the chaos on the track. It helped. A little. ImageImageImage

This bout was clearly out of control from the early going.

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I checked back later and the final score was something like 600 to 38. The other scores I saw recorded on a sheet were like 150 to 120. The roller derby culture attracts what Wikipedia called third wave feminists. What I noticed were tattoos, colored hair and a punk/goth vibe. 

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Yes, that big guy is wearing a kilt but that is no tartan that I recognize.ImageImageImageImageThe other interesting carry over from the days when roller derby was more entertainment than sport are the skate names some of the girls go by. Check these out.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageNow, back to the action on the track.

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The scripted wrestling type shows that I watched as a kid seemed more interesting but roller derby was one of my favorite events.

In the next hall down, all the weights still apparently had not been lifted and when I checked in the big boys were at it.

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In case you are wondering that is 267.5 kilos or 588.5 pounds that guy is dead-lifting. That is a load.ImageOne more hall down from the power lifting guys I ran into the Brazilian jujitsu tournament. Totally different culture here as well. A lot of foreign looking and sounding people mixed in with the Swedes.

ImageImageImageThings had wrapped up in the center of town. The triathlon had finished and people were breaking down tents and barriers. Off in the distance, though, I could hear the whine of engines, so I biked down to the harbor where the last of the non-swimming events was taking place, the auto rally. Cars were smoking down the harbor but my camera did not do a good job of catching the show. Still, I will inflict these two shots on you.

ImageImageIt has been a really enjoyable week here. There were 5,000 people competing in 31 different sports, which made the week half the size of a summer Olympic games in terms of competitors. The different cultures surrounding the different events made an impression on me from the military types at yesterday’s obstacle course to the tough roller derby chicks to the aeronautic set in their planes. Of the 31 events I managed to catch 16 of them. There were several others that I caught on TV like inline hockey and swimming. 

My conclusion is that for a country with a population 1/4 that of California, Sweden is a pretty sports-mad nation. Just the sheer diversity of events all happening over the course of one week tells me that as a society Swedes try to include as many as can fit. Two years ago SM Veckan was held in Halmstad but with far fewer sports and we had just moved so did not hear about it. This time around you could not miss it. Oh, and next week the European women’s football championships start here as well.

To top it off, the weather has been spectacular for two months now with today being the best day of a really good string of days. They say that summer is short here but we have had two months so far and the rest of July is looking good too. We have learned to enjoy it when it comes and I along with many others enjoyed this past week enormously.

 

 

 

 

 

Swedish Championship Week

I know I promised to make some posts about the sports championship week here in Halmstad. Things got off to kind of a slow start but have picked up considerably in the past couple days. So, let’s have at it.

Monday

There was some good stuff on Monday but because I forgot the key to my bike lock, I could not take advantage of it without risking my bike being stolen. I realize Halmstad is not Berkeley where even stuff that IS nailed down gets stolen but I decided not to risk it. So, that leaves us with, basically, boules. Precision boules to be precise.

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They set up the alleys in the central square. The idea is to hit the ball sitting their with your ball.Image

Each contestant gets one throw from each of  those circles and points are awarded for direct hits or hits on a bounce.ImageI went down to the arena where the inline hockey was taking place but thought the better of it, like I said. So, I decided to go swimming. But the swimming arena was being set up for the swimming that has been going on all week (swimming is a big sport in Sweden and especially here). Well, with the swimming pool closed, I opted for the beach and a dip in the sea, which is getting warmer. The water is 18 C. these days which is 64 F. and a good deal warmer than Half Moon Bay.

Tuesday

Today was rowing day. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Wednesday

There was stuff happening on Wednesday but nothing I was really interested in.

Thursday

Today was the beginning of the air acrobatics out at the airport. I went out there with Mariette’s dad who is a real airplane enthusiast. One of the highlights of his childhood was a German fighter plane that landed on the farm where he grew up. The pilot evidently saw the writing on the wall and deserted.

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There were some planes on display and a glider. The public could sit in them and play with the controls. Mostly kids were doing this, including one 82 year old kid.

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The air show started and was pretty impressive but the cloud cover was too low so the day’s show was cancelled after one exhibition. :-(

All was not lost because even if it is raining you can still play beach water polo. So, it was back to town for that.

ImageImageImagePicasso’s sculpture overlooked the scene.

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I finished off the day by engaging in my own sporting event: mowing the lawn after two weeks of rapid growth occasioned by summer sun and intermittent rain. The lawnmower needed repairs and the landlord had just brought it back. That finished off my day, literally. 

Friday

Things started heating up on Friday, beginning with Frisbee. A lot has evolved with the flying disc since I learned to throw it in my dorm hallways in college many years ago. There are all kinds of games played with it from frisbee golf to a variety of football to this, called double disc frisbee.

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In DDF, each two man team stands in a square and two frisbees are thrown so they land in the opponent’s square. You get points if it lands in the square or if both opponents are touching the frisbee at the same moment. 

The frisbee venue was near the airport but the morning was overcast so no air show in the morning. So, it was back to town to see if the 3 on 3 basketball had started (it hadn’t, though the court was set up and people were fooling around on it) and to catch some bike races.

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Now that things are rolling Channel 1 is in town covering the events.ImageImageAfter this stop it was out to the Halmstad Arena (a very large multi purpose facility with space for everything under the sun). I missed the weightlifting on Monday but the power lifting was going on today, specifically the bench press.

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Now, take a look at this guy’s back. It looked more massive in person, but you can see why this guy favors weightlifting competitions over marathons.

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By now the sky had cleared and I was determined to catch some more air acrobatics so back to the airport I went. The show did not disappoint.

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Not many photos from this so you will have to take my word for it that the stunts were pretty cool: straight up, turn, straight down, pull out, loop de loop, fly upside down, all amazing when seen from the ground but must be a spectacular to actually do it.

The final stop of the afternoon was the super endure taking place nearby the frisbee fields. When I was there in the morning I saw they wanted 20 bucks to watch but as I biked past I saw a lot of people on a hill outside the venue so I followed their lead and grabbed a place in the grass. Right next to Mariette’s mother whose bike I recognized when I parked mine and then went and found her. She’s a photographer who has had many photos published and true to form she was there with her film camera, so her shots will undoubtedly be better than these cell phone shots, but they will give you the idea.

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Saturday

Things were really cooking today. So much going on that I had to sacrifice some stuff (like the tug-of-war) to catch other events. First, more bike races.

ImageImageThen, the start of the women’s triathlon, which was about to start as I passed by.

ImageImageImageImageEasily as interesting was the guy on a Segway with his French bulldog.

ImageAll this was a distraction from where I was headed: back out to the Arena to watch track and field. I got there just as the 110 meter hurdles were starting.

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ImageThere were mostly women’s events going on while I was there. Since the Area is nearby I ventured over to see what was going on. In one of the halls was something I was curious about: roller derby. I popped in for a look but it was so damn confusing I thought i better find out a little about it before going back tomorrow. It looks nothing like the roller derby I used to watch on TV as a kid with the Bay Area Bombers led by Charley O’Connell and Annis “Big Red” Jensen. 

But, in the next hall down was something I could understand: more power lifting. Today, the dead lift. This guy is lifting about 440 pounds. He looked like he weighs about 190.

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The thing I was really interested in seeing today was the obstacle course run that is part of the 5 military event competition along with shooting and swimming and a couple others. This obstacle course intrigued me so I went to check it out. it did not disappoint. There are about 20 obstacles spread out over about 500 meters and the competitors are basically going over stuff and under stuff. 

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When they get to the top, they don’t climb down but just jump down. Flat feet, anyone?

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This guy might look like he was taking a rest and he probably wanted to by this point in the course but he kept chugging along. ImageImageImageImageImageMost of the competitors just collapse when they cross the finish line. It is an exhausting 3 or 4 minutes. The last guy I saw run the course looked like Spiderman as he bounded over and under the obstacles. It was really, really impressive.

Finally, it was back to town to catch some basketball finally. Lots of energy in evidence but not a lot of shooting touch from those I saw.

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After dinner, we went down to the beach and checked out the beach handball action. Mariette said this looked more like some guys fooling around on the beach than teams competing for the Swedish national championship.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageHard to disagree, though team handball is the one sport I have come to enjoy since moving here. I had to get this post up tonight because tomorrow is the final day of competition and there will be a lot to see. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving to Sweden is Moving

Just a quick note to let anyone following this blog that in a couple days the name of my blog will change from movingtosweden.org to movingtoswedendotorg.wordpress.com. I have been assured by the good folks at WordPress that I will still be able to post blog updates and people will still be able to follow our adventures or whatnot at that location. 

The fact is that during our first year here I did a new post about 2 days out of every 3 but in this second year I had already been there and done that, so I did new posts only about every 2 weeks, if that. 

Anyone interested will still be able to follow the blog by clicking the follow button, or maybe if you are following it will automatically transfer you to the newly named location movingtoswedendotorg.wordpress.com.

This change occurs just as there is going to be some interesting stuff happening here in Halmstad beginning tomorrow, 1 July. This whole next week is SM Vecka here, meaning Swedish Championship Week in a whole bunch of different sports and activities. The national championships from Badminton to Windsurfing and everything in between will be taking place throughout the week. I plan to catch as much as I can and hopefully will take some interesting photos worth posting. I mean, aren’t people interested in seeing who is crowned the Swedish tug of war champions? Or the roller derby champs? How about bocce ball? No, well then, how about frisbee? Model airplanes? Or real air acrobatics? 

Stay tuned.